Argentina Becomes First Country in South America to Issue Gender-Neutral Passports

Argentina made history on Thursday by becoming the first country in South America to offer gender-neutral passports for its trans and nonbinary residents.

On Wednesday, Argentinian President Alberto Fernández said that all citizens will now be able to choose between three gender markers on passports and National Identity Documents (DNIs). The latter are issued at the time of an individual’s birth, and ID cards must be updated every 15 years.

Fernández, who took office in 2019, said the policy change is for every Argentinian who “does not feel understood under the male/female binary.” “We have the need to open our heads to realize there are other ways to love and be loved, and there are other identities apart from the identity of a man or a woman, and they should be respected,” he said in comments cited by the progressive news outlet Democracy Now. “And they’ve always existed, only that in other times they were hidden.”

The change will mark a first for South America, where no other country has permitted “X” markers on national passports. Globally, several nations have rolled out similar options, including Australia, Bangladesh, Denmark, Nepal, and New Zealand.

Argentina has a long history of blazing a trail for transgender rights in the region. In 2012, the country of 44 million passed its Gender Rights Law, which paved the way for trans people to legally correct their gender without a doctor’s note. The legislation also guaranteed the right to free gender-affirming care, including hormones and surgery, under Argentina’s public health system.

In the nine years since that groundbreaking legislation was passed, Argentina has continued pushing toward trans equality. Buenos Aires is home to the world’s first high school created for transgender youth, Mocha Celis, and as of last year, the country was considering legislation to mandate the use of gender-neutral language in its national parliament.

Argentina has also moved toward guaranteeing employment for trans people, who still face high rates of poverty and discrimination. Its largest bank, the state-owned Banco de la Nación, announced a 5% trans hiring quota last year, and the country is pushing a law to set aside 1% of all public sector jobs for trans people.


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