SANTIAGO – Chile’s gender identity law has seen almost 1,000 applications from transgender people wishing to update their names and sex on legal documents since it came into force Friday.
The new law, signed by President Sebastian Piñera, means transgender people aged 14 or over can update identification documents to reflect their gender.
Alessia Injoque, president of the Fundacion Iguales (Equal Foundation) LGTBI collective said: “It is the first time that the state of Chile, through a law, recognizes and gives protection to the right to gender identity.
“The most important thing is that with this the state recognizes that trans people exist.”
The law “recognizes the dignity” of transsexual people through their chosen names and the “legitimacy” of their identities, she added.
“It is an advance in equality and autonomy, which makes Chile a fairer country,” Injoque continued.
The law stipulates three types of procedures one for people aged between 14 and 18 years old, another for adults who are not married and a third for adults who are married, the Foundation said.
The Justice Ministry said it has already received 921 applications from across Chile and 136 hearings had already been scheduled for Friday.
Justice Minister Hernan Larrain said the law “fulfills something that was greatly sought after and delayed by a community that was made invisible.”
The attachment to “past cultural traditions” does not allow people to notice other realities within society, he added.
“This step, therefore, is very important, because it is about exercising a right for the person to be who he/she is, according to their identity, and not necessarily, in this case, to the biological sex with which they were born,” Larrain said when presenting the law.
The procedure is “simple and free of charge,” the ministry said, with applicants requested to cover the cost of issuing of new identification documents.
To apply for a name and sex change the applicant must request an appointment for a special hearing.
Applicants need two witnesses at the hearing and will be issued with new identity documents within 45 days.