Semafor LogoDiego Mendoza

It is now easier to self-identify as transgender in Spain and Scotland

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Title iconThe News

Scotland and Spain's governments on Thursday both passed laws that make it easier for people aged 16 and above to legally change their gender identity.

Activists celebrate transgender rights bill  outside Spain's Parliament in Madrid on Dec. 22
REUTERS/Susana Vera
Title iconThe View From Spain

Spanish lawmakers passed a new bill that allows anyone over the age of 16 to legally change their gender without the need for medical authorization. The current law states that any person wishing to change their identity must be diagnosed with gender dysphoria by several physicians and in some cases provide proof they have undergone hormone replacement therapy, according to El Pais.

The bill passed Spain's lower house and now heads to Senate where it is expected to pass before the end of next year, according to the Associated Press.

There are several components pertaining to those under 16:

  • 12 and 13-year-olds will require a judge's authorization to have their paperwork changed.
  • 14 and 15-year-olds will require parental or guardian authorization.
  • The bill outlaws anti-trans conversion therapy.
Title iconThe View From Scotland

Scotland's new Gender Recognition Reform law makes it easier for trans people aged 16 and above to legally change their gender without needing a gender dysphoria diagnosis and shortens the time required to live in their gender before applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate.


The law passed through the Scottish parliament, though it is not expected to take effect until sometime next year, the BBC reported.

The law's provisions include:

  • Legal gender reassignment now only requires "self-declaration" instead of a diagnosis of gender dysphoria.
  • Those 18 and older must only have been permanently living in their gender for three months instead of two years before applying for legal recognition.
  • 16 and 17-year-olds must have been permanently living in their gender for six months before applying for legal recognition.

The UK government has opposed the legislation saying it could lead to "gender tourism," the Guardian reported, though it remains unclear whether parliament has any legal authority to stop the legislation.

Like Spain, Scotland's law does not add provide the option for a non-binary registration.

Title iconRoom for Disagreement

While LGBTQ advocates celebrated the news, some women's rights activists in both countries warned that the liberal self-determination provisions of the laws could blur the concept of biological sex.

In Spain, some politicians argued that the bill threatened to "erase women" and undo previous laws, such as those protecting equal prize money for both men and women in sports competition, according to Radio France Internacionale.

In Scotland, author J.K. Rowling -- who has been criticized for holding anti-trans views -- has vocally opposed the bill, at one point praising a Scottish politician who resigned in protest of her party's support of the bill.