Chilean Senate passes bill allowing minors to change legal gender

Chilean flag in the Court of St Damasso during the arrival of Chilean President Michelle Bachelet on June 5 2015 Credit Bohumil Petrik CNA 6 5 15 Chilean flag in the Court of St. Damasso during the arrival of Chilean President Michelle Bachelet on June 5, 2015. | Bohumil Petrik/CNA.

The Chilean Senate has passed a gender identity bill that would allow minors as young as 14 to change their name and gender in the civil registry.

The bill, which passed Sept. 4 by a vote of 26-14, will now go to the Chamber of Deputies, where it must be approved before becoming law.

The legislation defines gender identity as the "personal and interior conviction of being male or female, according to how one perceives oneself, which may or may not correspond with the sex and name as attested on the birth registration certificate."

This "may or may not involve the alteration of appearance or bodily function through medical, surgical or other analogous treatments, as long as they are freely chosen."

Under the bill, a minor between the ages of 14 and 18 could process the application through a family court and must have the approval of at least one of their legal guardians. Without that approval, the person must ask for the intervention of a judge to proceed with the change of name and gender in the civil registry.

Once the minor makes the change, they cannot retract it until they turn 18, the age of majority in Chile. Those over 18 can go through the legal procedure but will be unable to retract it.

Javiera Corvalán, a lawyer and the legislative coordinator for the Community and Justice association, said the bill has numerous consequences and gaps that were not considered in the debate.

For example, Corvalán said, a woman who is listed in the civil registry as a male, if sentenced for a crime, could not demand to go to the prison of her biological sex.

Speaking with ACI Prensa, CNA's Spanish language sister agency, the lawyer said that LGBT advocates had conducted a strong campaign through films, talks in schools, and media, which allowed them to change the population's view on the issue.

However, Corvalán warned that if the law is passed, "a battle on the cultural level awaits us mainly in the schools and the family."

Senator José García Ruminot agreed with the lawyer, saying that "complex matters have been treated that could greatly harm families."

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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