Last year, Care2′s Steve Williams reported on Argentina’s landmark Gender Identity Law, which allows the country’s citizens to easily legally change the gender listed on their state ID cards. Now, in another victory for LGBT rights, the Argentinian government has decided to grant a new ID for Lulu, a six-year-old transgender girl who has identified as female since she began speaking as a toddler.
It’s hard to overstate what a big deal this is. In many countries (including parts of the United States), trans citizens must go through a lengthy legal and medical process in order to change their identification. Many jurisdictions won’t allow a change at all, even if a person has changed their name and lives full-time as the gender they identify with.
This has far-reaching effects for the trans community — it essentially forces poor trans people to be officially “out,” whether they want to be or not. It opens them up to harassment from law enforcement, difficulty verifying their identity when flying, and can easily open trans people up to employment discrimination. It can even prevent trans people from participating in the political process in states with strict voter ID laws.
While it’s a little early for Lulu to worry too much about these particular problems, she does face other challenges, particularly as she enters school. The Argentinian Children, Youth, and Family Secretary decided that she wasn’t too young to decide the name and gender she’d like to be listed on her identification.
There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that LGBT children are fully capable of recognizing their gender identity and sexual orientation early in life, and that the sooner they’re able to come out, the better-adjusted they are as teens and adults. That’s no small matter for the transgender community, which studies have shown is at a 41% risk of attempted suicide due to the extreme discrimination and misunderstanding they face in daily life.
While some may worry that Lulu is too young to decide how she identifies, the beauty of this law is that people can change their ID relatively easily. So if at any point a transgender child decides they don’t really want to live as the sex they’ve previously identified as, it will be easy to change the paperwork back. Trans children are typically not given any irreversible surgery or hormone treatments until they are well into their teens, when they are able to make fully informed decisions about their medical care.
It’s great to see Argentina taking proactive steps to respect and protect trans youth. Hopefully, other countries like the United States will follow their lead.
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