The Argentine Senate [official website, in Spanish] approved a measure on Wednesday that allows people who want sex-change surgery or hormone therapy to have these treatments covered under their public or private health plans. The measure, known as the Gender Identity law, also allows any adult to change his or her gender or birth name on official documents without having to seek approval from a doctor or a judge. The Gender Identity law passed the Senate [Pagina 12 report, in Spanish] by a 55-0 vote, with more than a dozen senators declaring themselves absent. Senator Osvaldo Lopez [official profile, in Spanish], the only openly gay lawmaker in Argentina, praised the Gender Identity law. Argentine President Cristina Fernandez [official website, in Spanish] is expected to sign the measure into law.
Argentina has been at the forefront of gender rights in recent years. In July 2010 Fernandez signed a same-sex marriage bill into law [JURIST report], making Argentina the first Latin American nation to recognize same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder]. In November 2009 the mayor of Buenos Aires said that he would not appeal a court ruling that allowed same-sex marriage[JURIST report] in Argentina's capital. In 2002 Buenos Aires became the first Latin American city to legalize same-sex unions.