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Portugal’s parliament approves new legal gender change law, bans surgery on intersex infants

Portugal’s parliament approved a law that allows a change of gender without medical or State intervention. The same law also bans unnecessary surgery on intersex infants.

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Portugal’s parliament approved a law that allows a change of gender without medical or State intervention; meaning, trans people will no longer need to be diagnosed as mentally ill to change their gender legally.

The same law also bans unnecessary surgery on intersex infants.

Transgender people do not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth. Meanwhile, intersex people are born with any of several variations in sex characteristics (including chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones or genitals) that “do not fit the typical definitions for male or female bodies”, according to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Various nations require transgender people to first undergo medical procedures (such as surgery and sterilization), be diagnosed with a mental disorder, or get divorced if married before they can legally change their gender.

With this law, Portugal becomes only the sixth European nation to allow a change of gender without medical or State intervention. It follows Malta, Norway, Denmark, Ireland and Belgium.

The law also makes Portugal only the second nation in the world after Malta to ban medically unnecessary surgery on the genitals of intersex infants.

Doctors often perform surgery to “masculinize” or “feminize” the genitalia of intersex babies in the belief it will make their lives easier and to alleviate parental concerns. Unfortunately, the unnecessary surgery can cause life-long pain, sterilization, loss of sexual sensation and health complications.

The new Portuguese legislation now needs to be signed by President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa to come into effect.

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