FMLN Backs New Gender Identity Law Defending the Rights of the Transgender Community
On March 22, transgender activists and LGBTI social movement leaders joined legislative deputy Lorena Peña of the leftist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) as she introduced a bill for a new Gender Identity Law. The proposal, originally drafted in 2012 by the Roundtable for the Gender Identity Law in El Salvador, a coalition led by trans support and visibility organizations that includes progressive legal and health care organizations, would allow transgender people to legally change their names and gender on official documents.
According to the Roundtable’s press release, “As civil society organizations that promote respect for the human rights of trans people, we have been demanding a gender identity law that recognizes and guarantees access to a name change according to the identity and gender expression of trans people.”
Under El Salvador's current system, people are forced to use the name and gender assigned to them at birth, which can severely limit one’s ability to vote, open a bank account, apply for a loan and countless other daily activities. This change would be incredibly important in El Salvador, where prejudice, discrimination and violence are the everyday reality of many transgender people. A long history of gender-based violence and the prominence of religious conservativism are among the many factors that have contributed to the current reality.
As members of the Roundtable reflected, “We are aware that legal equality doesn’t automatically bring with it real equality, which is brought about by transforming society through processes of raising awareness and developing analysis, but we also have clarity that trans people cannot be limited from exercising their full human rights because they are can’t use a name that is appropriate for their identity and gender expression.”
Last year the United National High Commission on Human Rights called on the government of El Salvador to do more to investigate crimes against and to protect sexual minorities, echoing the demands of trans, LGBTQ and human rights organizations who have been working tirelessly to draw international attention to high rates of violence against trans people, especially trans women. In light of this reality, trans organizers and activists have continued to show tremendous courage in pushing for these reforms and in building an increasingly visible and powerful LGBTI movement. Read a great history in Spanish by Nicola Chávez Courtwright.
Despite suffering serious losses in the legislative and municipal elections on March 4, feminist leaders within the FMLN have continued to push for important initiatives that are often deemed controversial, even on the left, such as the Gender Equity Law and to reform the penal code to decriminalize abortion in certain circumstances.