Chilean President Sebastián Piñera on Wednesday signed into law a bill that allows transgender people over 14 to legally change their name and gender without surgery.“We signed the Gender Identity Law because we strongly believe that everyone is born equal in dignity, rights and responsibilities and we should be the architects of our own lives and live them with liberty,” wrote Piñera in a tweet that included a picture of him signing the bill. “As such, we can move towards a more humane and loving society that better respects diversity.
Promulgamos #LeyDeIdentidadDeGénero pq creemos firmemente en q todos nacemos iguales en dignidad, derechos y deberes y merecemos ser arquitectos de nuestras vidas y vivirlas con libertad. Así avanzamos hacia una sociedad + humana, cariñosa y q valore y respete mejor la diversidad pic.twitter.com/aw8sHsr8W6
The bill received final approval in Chile’s congress in September. The measure is expected to officially take effect next year.
A trans rights bill had been before lawmakers in the South American country since 2013.
Former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, who is now the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, backed the measure and a bill that seeks to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples in the country.
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights in January issued a landmark ruling that recognizes same-sex marriage and transgender rights in the Western Hemisphere. The trans rights bill that Piñera signed received renewed attention after “A Fantastic Woman,” a Chilean film that stars trans actress Daniela Vega, won the Oscar for best foreign language film in March.
“We won,” said Asociación OTD Chile, a trans advocacy group, on Wednesday after Piñera signed the bill.
Fundación Iguales and the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation, two other Chilean advocacy groups, also applauded the bill signing.
“This law is a significant advance for the rights of the trans community because it is an expressed recognition of their identity in law,” said Fundación Iguales Executive President Juan Enrique Pi in a statement.
Human Rights Campaign Global Director Ty Cobb echoed Pi.
“This historic decision marks a milestone for LGBTQ rights in Chile and in South America,” said Cobb in a statement that HRC released shortly after Piñera signed the bill. “We commend the efforts of all the LGBTQ advocates involved, including our Chilean partners at Fundación Iguales, who worked tirelessly for five years to achieve this victory. While this legislation removes roadblocks for many trans people, there is still important progress to be made — especially for transgender youth.”