Chilean Senate commission approves trans rights measure

A Chilean Senate commission last Wednesday approved a proposal that would allow transgender adults to legally change their name and gender without going before a judge.

The Senate’s Human Rights Commission voted 4-1 in favor of the proposal.

The proposal would allow unmarried trans Chileans over the age of 18 and those who have permanent residency in the South American country to legally change their name and gender at a Civil Registry office. It is part of a broader trans rights bill that would, among other things, allow people to legally change their name and gender without undergoing sex-reassignment surgery.

“The gender identity of each person should be determined by themselves and not by a judge,” said Luis Larraín, executive director of Fundación Iguales, a Chilean LGBT advocacy group, on Wednesday in a statement. “We celebrate that the commission has welcomed our position.”

The Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation, another Chilean advocacy group, in a press release specifically criticized Sen. Jacqueline Van Rysselberghe for voting against the measure. The group’s president, Rolando Jiménez, accused the lawmaker of trying to “censor us” during Wednesday’s debate.

“Senator Van Rysselberghe today complained on numerous occasions about us criticizing her for her permanent rejection of gender identity,” said Jiménez in a press release. “She clearly looked to censor us, which is intolerable.”

The trans rights bill — which President Michelle Bachelet supports — has yet to go before the Chilean Congress.