Final vote on trans rights bill set in Chilean Congress

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VALPARAISO, Chile | A joint commission comprised of members of both houses of the Chilean Congress on Monday dispatched a transgender rights bill, paving the way for a final vote after more than five years of debate.

The commission began to revise the bill in March after the first votes in the House of Deputies and the Senate generated differences. It took four months of debate to resolve them and agree on the proposed law in the last stage of the process, which LGBTI organizations considered a “historic milestone.”

One of the controversial points was the inclusion of children in the bill.

The commission approved a proposal that President Sebastián Piñera’s presented in May that includes only adolescents over 14 and adults. It will be the task of both chambers to ratify this provision or to agree on a new strategy so that minors will have access to the rights included in the bill.

The commission also approved the provision under which minors under 14 can request to change their gender. It says that any child who has the authorization of their parents may request rectification before a Family Court.

The commission also approved provisions that ban discrimination based on gender identity and remove the requirement to undergo surgery in order to legally change one’s gender.

“It is a huge step forward after so many years. The bill has several points that can be perfected, but the state is getting closer to settle the outstanding debt with our trans community and recognize the right to gender identity,” said Fundación Iguales Legal Director Jimena Lizama.

The commission dispatched the bill five months after “A Fantastic Woman,” a Chilean movie that stars Daniela Vega, a trans actress, won the Oscar for best foreign film.

After its final vote in Congress, the bill will be sent to President Sebastián Piñera, who has 30 days to approve or veto it. It will then be able to become law.

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