Ted Eytan via Flickr

Chile has signed a landmark trans rights bill into law.

Chilean President Sebastián Piñera finalised the country’s Gender Identity Law on Wednesday (28 November) after years of debate, allowing people over the age of 14 to legally change their name and gender in official records.

Children aged 14 to 18 must obtain approval from their parents or legal guardians.

“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,” said Piñera.

“As such, we can move towards a more humane and loving society that better respects diversity.”

The new law, which received approval in Chile’s congress in September, means that individuals will be able to define their own gender identity, irrespective of their physical state or what their birth certificate states.

It’s a positive move forward for the conservative and predominantly Catholic country – Chile was one of the last places in the world to legalise divorce in 2004, and their ban on abortion was only partially lifted in 2017.

Human Rights Campaign’s Global Director Ty Cobb called the decision a “historic milestone” for LGBTQ rights in Chile.

“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,” they said.

“While this legislation removes roadblocks for many trans people, there is still important progress to be made – especially for transgender youth.”

Juan Enrique Pi Arriagada, Executive President of Fundación Iguales, said: “The rights that were excluded from transgender people in Chile are being acknowledged at last.

“After years of fighting to ensure their legal recognition, we celebrate this historic triumph that will change the lives of many of those who, for far too long, lacked protections and lived in the shadows.

“While we celebrate this historic landmark, we must keep working to continue the fight towards full equality.”

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