Jaime Parada (left) and Luis Larraín (center) at Victory Institute’s 2017 Latin America and the Caribbean regional conference in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
This Tuesday, January 23, the House of Deputies of the Chilean Congress approved a bill that will allow transgender adults to legally change their names and gender markers on identification documents, without requiring prior surgery or a court order. The bill passed through the House by a 68-35 margin and will soon move onto the Senate. The bill fails to extend these rights to trans persons under the of 18.
Although the vote took place two weeks after the Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued a ruling which legally binds 19 countries, including Chile, to recognize trans rights and same-sex marriage, this bill was first introduced to the Chilean House of Deputies in 2013. Since then, it has been fought over and revised numerous times among the House and Senate. Although current President Michelle Bachelet is in favor of the bill, it is possible that the final vote will take place while the President-Elect is in office, Sebastián Piñera. Piñera takes office on March 11 and is not in favor of the bill, though a passing vote through the Senate would negate that.
Jaime Parada, openly gay Councilman of Providencia in Santiago, describes it as “a half-hearted joy. On one hand, Chile has finally opened the doors to the recognition of trans identities. On the other hand, the bill, as passed in the House of Deputies, leaves the situation of transgender girls and boys ambiguous.”
Luis Larraín, openly gay former Congressional candidate also echoes the bittersweet sentiments surrounding the bill’s failure to recognize the rights of trans minors, but also acknowledges the bill as a step forward and “hope[s] that in March it will be fully administered so that trans people, the most discriminated against of LGBT people, can access a better quality of life.”
Both Jaime and Luis have attended and spoken at several events organized by the LGBTQ Victory Institute in Latin America. It is because of their hard work as out politicians and activists, alongside their allies, that efforts like this are successful in extending equality to LGBTQ citizens of Chile.