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Huge leap forward for Argentina (and the world)
May 11, 2012 6:18 PM   Subscribe

Argentina passed a new gender identity law that gives people the right to legally designate a new gender regardless of whether they have taken hormones or undergone surgery. The law was drafted (and promoted) with help from the Argentine Transvestite, Transsexual and Transgender Association, which is led by Marcela Romero a transwoman who was recognized as "Woman of the Year" by the Argentine National Congress.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms (50 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is pretty coooooooooool.
posted by LogicalDash at 6:21 PM on May 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


And the USA once considered itself a shining beacon of freedom, the City on the Hill.
posted by Saxon Kane at 6:26 PM on May 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


That is seriously awesome.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 6:27 PM on May 11, 2012


If only women could simply identify as male and get all that income they would've gotten simply by being a man.
posted by basicchannel at 6:29 PM on May 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


Goddamn this is so fucking awesome. It gives me such hope for humanity.
posted by symbioid at 6:37 PM on May 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wonder if there will be widespread abuse of this law by cisgendered men. I'm particularly thinking of male prisoners, particularly sex offenders. Scary, the idea of being locked up in a women's prison with a cellmate who is biologically male and identifies as male.
posted by cairdeas at 6:38 PM on May 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


Oh damn, the gender-fluid scifi future I completely love reading about is now one step closer to reality.

Couldn't happen a moment too soon.

Die, gender, die!
posted by mediareport at 6:39 PM on May 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


Die, gender, die!

Yes, this.
posted by Anima Mundi at 6:46 PM on May 11, 2012


Scary, the idea of being locked up in a women's prison with a cellmate who is biologically male and identifies as male.

Male exposure to sexual and non-sexual violence in prison is so routine that prison rape is one of the most hackneyed punch lines to dickish jokes. The answer, of course, is to have proper procedures and safeguards that prevent people from being locked up with people who will do them violence. It surely isn't too great a stretch to conceive of a procedure that considers biological gender, among other factors, when deciding whether people are suitable cellmates. One might even allow prisoners to express reasonable preferences.

In other words the problem is inhuman prisons, not devious technical transsexuals.
posted by howfar at 7:20 PM on May 11, 2012 [33 favorites]


Indeed. And it is the obvious answer. I'm sure everyone will be fine.
posted by cairdeas at 7:30 PM on May 11, 2012


You mean I could create my very own unique gender?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:36 PM on May 11, 2012


What could possibly go wrong?
... but it is impressively progressive law.
posted by de at 7:37 PM on May 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Well, wait until the Catholic church hears about this!
posted by sonic meat machine at 7:43 PM on May 11, 2012


Now don't be a cathophobe. There's room for everyone.
posted by de at 7:51 PM on May 11, 2012


You mean I could create my very own unique gender?

Yeah, but the distinguishing taxonomical details are a pain to work out so I just say I'm "memale".
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:57 PM on May 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


P.S. Will Argentinean government forms be adopting the MeFi instruction "this is free-form, go nuts"?
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:02 PM on May 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


under this rule, can you declare yourself as something other than man or woman
posted by PinkMoose at 8:17 PM on May 11, 2012


Give it another decade or so.
posted by mediareport at 8:30 PM on May 11, 2012


under this rule, can you declare yourself as something other than man or woman

Holy gods this is so bitchin'
posted by Greg Nog at 8:47 PM on May 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


This makes me so happy.
posted by livinglearning at 8:51 PM on May 11, 2012


under this rule, can you declare yourself as something other than man or woman

I live in the US and I've declared myself as such, but it's not legally binding nor taken seriously except by a subset of the trans community and a few liberal and understanding friends.

It'll be interesting to see how the law impacts society. When everything from language to bathrooms to hand tools to running shoes to whether a child is encouraged or discouraged from technical careers is based on the idea that everyone must fit into one of two boxes, what happens when the law says the boxes are open and people are free to wander wherever they like?
posted by Foosnark at 8:52 PM on May 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Awww man, how are we going to get riled up over the Falklands now? ;)
Congrats, Argentina.
posted by Theta States at 9:02 PM on May 11, 2012


that's pretty cool.
What's really cool is this:
The gender identity law that won congressional approval with a 55-0 Senate vote
posted by chococat at 9:20 PM on May 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


This is good news.
posted by drezdn at 9:45 PM on May 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wonderful news. I'm glad that there are places where our rights are actually being advanced.
posted by jiawen at 10:13 PM on May 11, 2012


Wow, a light in the darkness.
posted by fleacircus at 10:37 PM on May 11, 2012


Theta States: "Awww man, how are we going to get riled up over the Falklands now? ;)"

ITYM "Las Malvinas". Or, now, "Los Malvinos", or any other combination.

Actually, Sapir-Whorfing this a little, it's suprising to see this in a Spanish language country. Spanish is very gendered, and lacks a neuter gender.

But yes, this is awesome.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 10:50 PM on May 11, 2012


And the USA once considered itself a shining beacon of freedom, the City on the Hill.

I'm sure US still considers itself a shining beacon of freedom. Point, though, is that it has never been the first in promulgating -any- liberal-legal value that most of us aspire to, or take for granted, in liberal democracies, not women's suffrage, universal adult franchise, legalization of homosexual relationships.

The word miscegenation is entirely American, US being one of the earliest countries to ban inter-racial marriages under modern law; only about 6 or so states on the mainland didn't have laws on this. I can't get any links on this (mostly because i forgot the exact title of this paper), but there's a paper from 1945 written by returning African-American soldiers that argued (quite persuasively, I thought) that the conditions and the manner and rate in which the judicial system back then convicted African-Americans is equivalent to genocide; an extraordinary, but well-argued thesis, made all the more poignant by the fact that these guys returned from fighting for American freedom, justice and all that balderdash.

Fact is, America was not a beacon of freedom for many Americans for most of its history; the sooner Americans let go of this creation myth the better it is for everyone.

That said, what American history allows us non-Americans is, though, to understand how liberal values came about in an evolutionary sense.

In India, for instance, the primacy of universal adult franchise as a constitutional value is taken for granted (as it is in most liberal democracies); to truly understand how or why this so desirable, you'd really have to look to American civics, to understand Jim Crow, for instance. Likewise for the notion of 'consenting adults' (in a sexual act); as I had mentioned before on the Blue, that's a notion that was essentially "imported" from, well, initially Canada, but America as well. As is the notion of having a "Bill of Rights" (although we call them "Fundamental Rights"), and here's the crucial part for me lately, having a notion of separation of powers / authority between a center and state. Now I don't think US has quite figured out the right mix here, but all discussions on state rights would continue to inform discussions on center-state relations in India as well; I can't think of a bigger or better example to learn from in understanding how liberal values may be transmitted down to a local government level as well. Seen in that light, the current debate on gay marriage is very illuminating in not just understanding how marriage equality may be taken forward, but also in understanding what kind of legislative actions may be shared between central and state institutions.

In short, US is a beacon of freedom not because it does things first, but because it is the biggest, baddest, ugliest mo-fo in a playground for freedom.
posted by the cydonian at 12:00 AM on May 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Well, thank goodness there's no possibility for silliness, confusion, piss-taking and absurdity here.
posted by Decani at 2:29 AM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh no! A ground-breaking leap forward for trans rights! There might be piss-taking!
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 3:16 AM on May 12, 2012 [13 favorites]


OK, here's the (tongue-in-cheek) plan:

* As a teenager, I become a woman or man to improve the diversity statistics of the institution to which I'm applying (a woman for engineering, a man for nursing, and so on.)
* At work I guess I'll be a woman to get better protection from laws against sex discrimination. (I'm assuming that my actual biological, obvious sex will be what really has a difference over my pay and promotion, as it does currently, so I might as well change.)
* Things get interesting when babies come along. I guess if I'm a woman after my children come along I'll get the generally longer maternity leave, whether or not I'm the person who gave birth to the baby?
* As retirement approaches I have some tricky choices. As a woman, I get to retire earlier, but I get a worse pension payout (because I'm likely to live longer). Hmmm. Maybe if I'm in a well-paid job, I become a man, work the few extra years (five at present in Argentina), but then retire with a bigger pension. If I'm in a poorly-paid job I become a woman and retire early: most of my income will come from the state pension anyway.
* Make sure I'm a woman when applying for car insurance, of course. We're safer drivers.

Generally, then, I want to be a woman legally (more protections), but of course be a man in appearance and behaviour (more money and power).

In all seriousness: much of our system of benefits, work law and regulations about gender assume there are two, and you can't change them easily. I suspect easy re-assignment of gender will challenge much of this system.

Of course, the vast majority of people won't ever change gender. But we think in terms of narratives, and even a few people using the system as illustrated above will create the stories that will drive debate.
posted by alasdair at 3:20 AM on May 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I suspect easy re-assignment of gender will challenge much of this system.

As well it should. Maternity v paternity leave and benefits, or differing retirement ages are examples of the madness caused by thinking of gender, a socially constructed trait, as an inherent characteristic. Build a sane system in the first place and there won't be any incentive to gender-switch to game it. As it is, the Argentine system will doubtless have to adapt fairly rapidly. Fantastic!
posted by howfar at 3:38 AM on May 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


Oh noes! Piss-taking and debate! Those would certainly be the worst things in the world. If we lived in the magical kingdom of Equestria.

Meanwhile, in the real world, mechanisms which deny trans people the right to alter their legal status, or make the process prohibitively complex or expensive, contribute to the perception of trans people as OK to discriminate against, and make it harder for trans people to be perceived as their chosen gender. Which contributes in turn to a climate of hostility towards and violence against trans people.

In that light, a nation making a solid statement that, from the state level downwards, trans people should be treated with respect and fairness seems to be a greater net good than imaginary armies of system-gaming gender-switchers.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:04 AM on May 12, 2012 [9 favorites]


I don't believe that many people will attempt to game the system here. The law was passed because having the wrong gender designation is irritating at best and humiliating or dangerous at worst. Folks aren't going to bring that on themselves voluntarily. And if they do, as others have pointed out, then it will raise a lot of long overdue questions about how men and women are treated under the law.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 6:31 AM on May 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


As well it should. Maternity v paternity leave and benefits, or differing retirement ages are examples of the madness caused by thinking of gender, a socially constructed trait, as an inherent characteristic.

Yes and no? Females do tend to be the ones growing, birthing, and breastfeeding babies; from that perspective it makes sense for female parents to be treated differently under the law. Although of course there are adoption and...I guess surrogacy to think about and you could just change it to "if you had a baby all up in your belly for a long-ass time, take a few more weeks off on us!"
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:43 AM on May 12, 2012


I don't think we disagreethe young rope-rider. I'm not aware that anyone sane argues for identical treatment, just equality. Assigning parental leave rights based on what tends to be the case seems odd and impractical to me.

Why not provide an amount of leave per child that we allow parents to assign as best suits their needs and that of that child? From the perspective of a child direct breast feeding is wonderful, but perhaps not at the expense of damage to a parent's career or education that can be avoided by the bulk of the early care being given by the father.
posted by howfar at 10:00 AM on May 12, 2012


For some reason I read the post as "Arizona passed a new gender identity law..." and all processing shut down.
posted by Killick at 10:44 AM on May 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Argentina, fuck yeah!
posted by kengraham at 11:13 AM on May 12, 2012


Gender is not “a socially-constructed trait.”
posted by joeclark at 12:57 PM on May 12, 2012


Yes it is. "Sex" is a specific word denoting a specific range of biological traits; gender is a constellation of psychological attributes related, in part, to one's sex. Like all constellations of psychological attributes, gender is largely socially constructed.
posted by kengraham at 1:10 PM on May 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


I want to be a watermelon seed. I don't want to hear any of your fauna-centric shit--especially from you mammals.

Sunshine and well-drained soil forever!
posted by mule98J at 2:10 PM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


You mean I could create my very own unique gender?
Yeah, but the distinguishing taxonomical details are a pain to work out so I just say I'm "memale".
When I was in high school I decided I was fed up with the available genders, and with the fact that they were both full of obnoxious people, and I was going to start my own gender and only let cool people in.

Our visible distinguishing trait was going to be antlers.
posted by nebulawindphone at 2:51 PM on May 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I hereby declare myself a fire truck. WHEEEEEEEEOOOOOOOOO! HAWNKHAWNK! WHEEEEEEEEOOOOOooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo...
posted by Strange Interlude at 6:46 PM on May 12, 2012


Man, we're right next door to Argentina and still can't even legalize abortion.
posted by signal at 7:00 PM on May 12, 2012


Seriously, though, I think making the "gender" field free-form is a wonderful idea.

Under a legal system that doesn't have any sexist anachronisms built in and that properly protects gay rights, the sexes are not just equal under the law but actually interchangeable from a legal point of view. So what the heck — why not be less strict about it? Either let the government quit keeping track, or — if they're going to continue keeping track — let it be a voluntarily declared personal statistic, like race or native language on the US census. Which is, apparently, what Argentina is doing here. Go Argentina!

Something else exciting about the new law, which hasn't come up in this thread yet, is that it allows people to legally and physically transition...

(1) without needing "permission" from a psychiatrist, and
(2) without needing to pay for surgery out of pocket — it's now apparently on the list of procedures that will be covered under national health insurance.

This is huge.
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:48 PM on May 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I hereby declare myself a fire truck. WHEEEEEEEEOOOOOOOOO! HAWNKHAWNK! WHEEEEEEEEOOOOOooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo...

This sort of comment comes up a lot in threads about gender identity and I always find it irritating. There is no parallel to be drawn between being transgendered and being a fire truck. People can have genders that don't correspond with their bodies. They can have genders that don't correspond with the patriarchal male/female binary. People don't even need to have genders at all. Expressing that doesn't make them any less human.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 5:14 AM on May 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


Under a legal system that doesn't have any sexist anachronisms built in and that properly protects gay rights, the sexes are not just equal under the law but actually interchangeable from a legal point of view. So what the heck — why not be less strict about it? Either let the government quit keeping track, or — if they're going to continue keeping track — let it be a voluntarily declared personal statistic, like race or native language on the US census.


Why not? Because sexism still exists and what you're describing is basically a wholesale government abandonment of women and females as classes that require protection.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:53 AM on May 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


This sort of comment comes up a lot in threads about gender identity and I always find it irritating.

Okay, I meant no offense to the trans/other-gender community, nor to trivialize the concept of self-defined gender identity. My mind was just reeling with the possibilities of where you could go with the concept of fully sui generis gender definitions, and the first thing I thought of when I tried to imagine being a 100% original gender was "fire truck." Which says more about my imagination than anything, really. Flag and ignore.
posted by Strange Interlude at 2:25 PM on May 13, 2012


Why not? Because sexism still exists and what you're describing is basically a wholesale government abandonment of women and females as classes that require protection.

I don't think that would be a necessary consequence.

(If I did, I wouldn't have made the suggestion. Sexism isn't something to fuck around about.)

I mean, I think there's an interesting conversation to be had about how much the government needs to be involved in policing people's gender identities in order to promote sex and gender equality. But I have a strong suspicion that the answer is "not involved at all."

Look at how the US deals with individual religious practice. The government doesn't know what religion I am (outside the Census Bureau, and that's just for statistical purposes). They don't print it on my driver's license. (We'd be horrified if they tried to!) I don't need their permission in order to change churches, or leave my church and declare myself an atheist, or join two churches at once, or whatever. I don't even need to notify them if I make a change like that. They don't get to determine what the list of valid religions is — I can make my own up, if I want, and if I practice it sincerely it still "counts." And despite all this, if I'm facing religious discrimination at work I can call up the EEOC and they'll have my back. If I'm attacked out of religious intolerance, they can prosecute it as a hate crime. If there's some government policy that harms members of my religion out of proportion to members of others, I've got a civil rights case. We manage to protect religious equality about as well as we manage to protect gender equality, I'd say. We don't do a perfect job — but then as I'm sure you know we're not doing a perfect job on gender either.

So the thing is, I don't think it would help the cause of religious equality any if the government started policing people's religion — started keeping a master list of who goes to what church, and requiring official permission to change churches, and all that. And similarly, if the government stops doing that stuff for gender — tracking people's gender, and requiring official permission in order to transition, and so on — I don't think the cause of sex and gender equality will be harmed.
posted by nebulawindphone at 3:29 PM on May 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


mind was just reeling with the possibilities of where you could go with the concept of fully sui generis gender definitions, and the first thing I thought of when I tried to imagine being a 100% original gender was "fire truck."

Right, your mind went reeling because you felt this was all absurd and wanted to find the best way to mock it. noted.
That's the kind of response much of society gives, tragically.
posted by Theta States at 6:38 AM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


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