In the wake of an inconclusive parliamentary election in July, Spain witnessed Carla Antonelli, a known trans activist and former actress, joining its Senate on 17 August, making her the country’s first openly trans senator.
Speaking passionately to the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Antonelli stated her unwavering commitment to guarding the recent trans-self-ID law reforms, asserting, “We will staunchly safeguard our rights.” She had been at the forefront of advocating for these reforms, which were successfully enacted on 16 February.
These pivotal reforms now empower trans individuals below 16 years of age to alter their gender identifiers with the consent of their guardians or parents. Meanwhile, those aged between 12 and 13 would necessitate judicial approval. A significant aspect of the legislation eliminates the need for trans individuals to produce medical documentation for gender marker changes on official papers. Furthermore, neither a gender dysphoria diagnosis nor evidence of two-year hormonal treatment remains mandatory.
However, the progressive stride in trans rights has met opposition, with the People’s Party and the Vox Party expressing intentions of revoking the law if they ascend to power.
Recalling her historic role as Spain’s inaugural openly trans MP in a regional parliament in 2011, Antonelli expressed concern over the spread of misinformation concerning trans individuals, saying, “Misleading narratives about trans people have perpetuated prejudices.” In her Senate tenure, Antonelli aims to combat such false narratives and push for inclusive provisions, such as designating gender markers for non-binary individuals on formal records.
A steadfast advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, the 64-year-old senator emphasised the desire for genuine equality, saying, “We don’t yearn for privileges. Our pursuit is genuine equality and a life of happiness.”
Antonelli has been immersed in the journey for trans rights in Spain for many years. In a poignant episode in 2006, she resorted to a hunger strike to influence the Socialist Worker’s Party, which she was a member, to enact a law permitting trans people to amend their legal gender without mandatory sex-reassignment surgeries.
Prioritising her convictions, Antonelli departed the party the previous year following their reluctance to support the self-ID law, stating, “I hold my principles dear. Every day, I want to see my authentic self when I look in the mirror.”
Spain’s decision aligns it with other European nations, including Denmark and Switzerland, embracing self-ID laws. Similarly, Finland also modernised its gender marker laws earlier this year.