On Monday, June 4, 100 trans* persons lined up to change the name and gender that appears on their legal documents as Argentina’s Gender Identity and Health Comprehensive Care for Trans People Act went into effect.

The act protects full rights and health coverage for trans persons and the freedom to declare a change of their gender on legal forms without the need to seek approval from a judge, consult a medical professional, or produce a witness to confirm their gender identity. Argentina is the first Latin American country to enact a law which allows people to officially declare their gender identity based strictly on how they identify. Both public and private health care are required to cover all related medical procedures, such as hormone treatments and sex reassignment surgery. These legal and medical rights are further extended to people under the age of 18, though juvenile justice will be consulted in cases of gender reassignment surgery.

The act, which has been lauded as the most progressive gender identity legislation in existence, was passed with a vote of 55-0 by the Congress of Argentina on May 9.

Argentina became the first Latin American country and second country in the Americas to recognize equality of same-sex marriage when they passed the Marriage for People of the Same Sex bill on July 22, 2010.

Congress followed up the recent comprehensive trans* rights act by passing a law to allow foreigners to marry a person of the same sex in Argentina. Paraguayan couple Simón Cazal and Sergio Lopez, the first couple to marry under this law, got married in Rosario, Santa Fe on March 23 earlier this year.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2KW3FGnNVo]

Argentina, which has a large Catholic community, has recently seen drastic changes in public opinion and LGBTQ protections as human rights organizations and activists have raised awareness.

Maria Rachid, member of the Argentine LGBT Federation board of directors, commented:

“Many organizations have been working diligently for the past several years to see these changes in our country, and we assist the social and political realities which encourage these developments.”

As we celebrate the victory for trans* rights realized through the Gender Identity and Health Comprehensive Care for Trans People Act, we can look to their well-earned success as a model for equality efforts.