If adopted by parliament, the bill will make Spain one of the few countries in Europe to permit gender self-determination.
“We’ve approved a bill which will guarantee real and effective equality for trans people and will ensure important rights for LGBTI people that are currently being violated in our country,” said Equality Minister Irene Montero during a press conference.
According to a draft of the bill seen by AFP, any Spaniard over 16 “will be able to apply to change the sex of their entry in the civil registry office”.
They will also be able to change their given name.
Crucially, the change will be made on the basis of a simple statement, dropping a previous requirement for them to first submit medical reports or undergo hormonal treatment.
Unveiled during Madrid’s Pride Week, the bill could even allow those as young as 14 to make the change, but only under certain conditions.
“During this Pride Week, we are making history with a law that will take a giant step forward for LGBTI rights and particularly the rights of transgender people,” Montero said.
“We recognise the right for self-determination of gender identity and undertake ‘de-pathologisation’ meaning trans people will no longer be considered ill and won’t be required to have any kind of psychiatric or medical report in order to be recognised,” she said.
But the legislation sparked tensions between Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s Socialists and their hard-left junior coalition partner Podemos.
Earlier this year, deputy prime minister Carmen Calvo said she was “particularly concerned by the idea gender could be chosen on the basis of will alone, thereby jeopardising the identity… of the rest of Spain’s 47 million inhabitants”.
The two sides eventually agreed to include a cooling-off period following presentation of the application, with the applicant required to reconfirm their wish three months later.
“This law puts us at the forefront in Europe in terms of recognising the rights of LGBTI people and particularly of trans people,” Montero said.
According to the LGBTI group ILGA, at least 25 UN member states “allow for legal gender recognition without prohibitive requirements.”
But only around 15 countries allow transgender people to change their status on the basis of a simple declaration.
In some countries, the process can take years and may include requirements such as a psychiatric diagnosis, hormone treatment, gender reassignment surgery or even sterilisation.