Friday, June 12, 2015

The Big Change

A legal change this week placed Colombia in the vanguard of nations which permit their citizens to legally change their gender.

That's right - no psychiatrist or surgeon required. Just sign this notarial form and in five days the government will see you as the other gender.

The facility in switching gender is a victory for transgender people - previously, a gender change required a judge's order and months of waiting - but I wonder whether officials have thot thru the possible consequences.

The easy, no-questions-asked gender switch seems, first of all, out of step with the rest of Colombian culture and laws. After all, Colombia still does not allow same-sex marriage. As a result, two men or two women aren't allowed to marry each other here; but once one of them switched his or her gender, they could marry, creating an even less conventional (and even less Catholic) relationship. Both members of a heterosexual couple could even change gender identities and still remain a heterosexual couple.

And how about criminal consequences? Will Juan Gomez carry the same guilt once he's Juana Gomez? And in which prison will he (or she) do the time?

Thirdly, will gender switching add another cover for people fleeing from the law? How difficult will it be to nab a criminal who's changed not only his (or her) appearance, but also legal name and gender?

Perhaps fortunately, the confusion will be limited by the limit on switching gender only two times in one lifetime, and only once in a ten-year period.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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