Argentina’s senate voted unanimously on Wednesday to make gender transition health care a legal right.
Senators approved the Gender Identity law by a vote of 55 to zero with one abstention and more than a dozen senators declaring themselves absent — the same margin that approved a “death with dignity” law earlier in the day.
“This law is going to enable many of us to have light, to come out of the darkness, to appear,” said Sen. Osvaldo Lopez of Tierra del Fuego, who was appointed to his seat after the previous senator’s sudden death, thus becoming the only openly gay national lawmaker in Argentina.
“There are many people in our country who also deserve the power to exist,” Lopez added.
The law will give citizens the legal right to officially change their gender markers on their birth certificates and other identity documents without having to go through a lengthy and sometimes costly court process.
The law also mandates that health care providers offer change related health care, including hormone treatments and surgery, as part of the “Obligatory Medical Plan,” meaning that providers will not be able to charge extra costs for those services.
Argentina isn’t the first Latin American country to approve a gender change rights laws, but it is believed that with this new law Argentina positions itself at the forefront of catering for its citizens where medically necessary gender change treatment is concerned.
Argentina’s president, Cristina Fernandez, is expected to sign the measure into law shortly.