Dhe dispute over the “trans law” has flared up again in Spain with renewed vigor. “We will not accept any step backwards,” Equal Opportunities Minister Irene Montero threatened her coalition partners from the socialist PSOE party. For the second time, the draft law is a crucial test for the left-wing minority government.
The “Law for the Actual and Effective Equality of Transgender Persons” is intended to give everyone the right to determine their gender themselves – including minors: For a gender change, only two declarations three months apart in front of the registry office are necessary. Then the new identity card will be issued. Medical diagnosis and hormone treatment, which were previously required, are no longer necessary.
A year and a half ago, the Equality Minister’s Podemos party and Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s PSOE party in the cabinet approved the draft; Parliament is expected to pass the law by the end of the year. But the truce in the left-wing coalition did not last that long. All of a sudden, the Socialists in the responsible parliamentary committee voted to extend the deadline for possible changes to the law – together with the conservative People’s Party PP and the right-wing populists from Vox. From Podemos’ point of view, this borders on treason: The “Ley trans” is one of their flagship projects and important for the 2023 election campaign.
An “alliance against the extermination of women”
Behind the dispute is a generational conflict among Spanish feminists. The law of the 34-year-old Minister for Equal Opportunities goes too far for the older ones, who were shaped by the fight for women’s rights after the end of the Franco dictatorship – as it does for other PSOE members who consider themselves to be in the political center. “Alliance against the annihilation of women” is the name of an association in which the opponents have joined forces.
In government, her main voice in drafting the bill was Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo. Being a woman is “not a matter of feelings,” argued the 65-year-old lawyer. Carmen Calvo opposed being able to “choose gender solely by sheer will or desire”. To this day, feminists like her see their achievements in the fight for equal rights as threatened by “men who identify themselves as women”. For them, gender is an “immutable biological reality”.
Irene Montero, on the other hand, is close to the emancipation efforts of the LGTBQ movement, as are a larger number of younger PSOE members. In the end, Montero won the power struggle: Pedro Sánchez let the Minister for Equal Opportunities direct the trans law. In July 2021, he released Carmen Calvo, although she was his “number two” and one of his closest companions. However, the resistance did not subside. In the next few days, the Socialists want to introduce amendments. The regulations for minors are particularly controversial. From the age of 16 they can make the necessary declarations on their own. Between the ages of 14 and 16, parental consent is required. Between the ages of 12 and 14, court approval is also required. In the meantime, it has already been made clear that a gender change will not have any retrospective consequences.