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Portugal is poised to pass legislation making it easier for trans people to update their gender marker and name on identity documents.

The proposed law waives the requirement that individuals present a doctor’s note in order to update their birth certificate or driver’s license. Instead, applicants will be allowed to “self-identify” their gender identity. It also lowers the age at which trans people can request to have their documentation corrected: Currently the age limit is 18 years old, but if the legislation is signed into effect, it will be 16.

The groundbreaking bill was passed by the country’s Parliament on Friday by a vote of 109 to 106. After the vote, Socialist Party MP Isabel Moreira called it a “historic day that honors every trans person and their families,” as originally reported by the BBC.

Fifteen legislators in the 230-seat body abstained.

It will need to be signed by President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa before becoming the law of the land, and he is likely to support the bill. The politician has a history of backing pro-LGBTQ legislation. After the Parliament overrode a veto from his predecessor, Cavaco Silva, on a same-sex adoptions bill in 2016, de Sousa approved a law allowing lesbian couples to conceive through artificial insemination.

Marriage equality has been legal in Portugal since 2010, when it became the sixth European country permitting same-sex couples to wed.

Should the gender identity bill go into effect, the Iberian nation will become one of just a handful of European countries which allow trans people to correct their documentation without undergoing gender confirmation surgery or hormone therapy. Others include Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Malta, and Norway.

More than 20 European nations require that transgender people be sterilized before state officials will approve a name or gender change—including Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Switzerland, and Turkey.

Countries like Austria, France, and Germany have lifted those requirements in recent years.

In contrast, Portugal has long been ahead of the curve when it comes to affirming trans identities. Since its Parliament passed a bill in 2011 recognizing the right of transgender people to have documents which reflect their true self, Portugal’s Ministry of Justice reports that 485 people have updated their name and gender marker.

The legislation approved by Parliament this week also bans surgery to “correct” the genitalia of intersex youth. Only Malta has laws in place protecting intersex children from unnecessary, invasive operations.


Nico Lang
Nico Lang is a staff writer for INTO, covering news, politics, and global LGBTQ issues.