Chile: Fighting for gender identity

By Tamara Vidaurrázaga 

Santiago de Chile, January (SEMlac). - Vicente (23) is in the process of changing his gender identity. He was born a girl and named Camila.
To this end, he has been forced to make long, cumbersome, disrespectful arrangements.

Vicente's transition
He did not like to wear dresses and skirts when he was only five. "I always asked my parents to buy me boy's toys," he told SEMlac.
He did not like it either when his body started to change at puberty. "I had to struggle against myself because I thought I had to be heterosexual and I was nonetheless attracted to women," he added.
At 21, a female friend told him that he may well be a trans person. He thought it through and decided to embark on his transition, although he feared rejection and abuse.
He has been seeking advice from the Legal Clinic at the University of Chile for over a year, and has undergone physical and psychological examinations at the Legal Medical Service to have his gender identity changed.
"The physical examination included asking me questions about my body and the psychological one, about potential child abuse. The professionals were all hostile, cold, distant," he recalled.
"You really get mad when you have to face so many hurdles to be who you want to be," he stressed.

Current legislation
Outright Action International's report entitled Mapping the rights of trans in Chile was supported by TranSítar Foundation and put together by Organizando Trans Diversidades (OTD-Chile) ( 
Civil court requirements for change of name and sexual reassignment include medical examinations and witness testimonies about the applicant's life as a man or a woman for at least five years.
There is a law against discrimination that covers sexual orientation and gender identity. It has made it possible to establish a legal mechanism for this purpose.

A gender identity law
The Yogyakarta Principles set forth that States should take all legislative and administrative measures necessary to ensure full respect for and legal recognition of the gender identity chosen by every individual.
These principles are not being observed in Chile, however. The above-mentioned report recommended passing a gender identity law to regulate cases like that of Vicente.
A bill along these lines was submitted to Congress in 2013. If it is finally passed into law, it will stipulate that gender identity is a human right and will help secure full equality for trans people before the law.
In 2015, the Human Rights Commission at the Senate adopted a final text on amendments of birth certificates and minimum age for Civil Registry proceedings.
TranSÍtar director Niki Raveau emphasized that trans people of all ages should have the right to legalize their identity without having to appear in court.
"This law will certainly be a step forward, but there will still be a need to address issues for trans people like health care, education, and access to the employment market. We must follow the examples of Malta and Argentina in this regard," she concluded.

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