Argentina´s Congress annual prize to the ‘Distinguished Woman of 2009’ unleashed a wave of controversy this year as the recipient of this national award was a transsexual, who recently prevailed in a 10-year-long court battle to receive a new identity document recognizing her as a woman.
Marcela Romero is 45 years old, and had gender reassignment surgery years ago. She is one among hundreds of cases in Argentina striving to have their new gender identity legally recognized, according to the queer.org organization in Argentina.
A decade in waiting
“I am what I am. The right of one person is the right of all,” said Marcela Romero during an event last Tuesday in the Argentine Congress. Her award suggests that “no other person would have to wait 10 years or more in order to receive a national identity document with their name and gender identity”.
Ms. Romero is a known activist, fighting for the abolition of various civil codes across many provinces of Argentina, where being a transvestite is considered a criminal activity. Romero, who is vice president of Argentina’s Association of Transvestites, Transsexuals and Transgender People, was chosen from among a dozen nominees for the award, including women active in combating poverty, drugs and environmental degradation. After the announcement, news services reported that some in the audience walked out.
“I don’t know democracy … I would have liked, for example, to go on studying, but I was rejected by the educational system when I assumed the identity of a woman”, she told Todo Noticias, a local news channel.
A decade in waiting
It wasn’t until August 2009 that Romero could finally stop responding to her male name every time she would visit a public office. Her new identity card shows her with long blond hair and red lips.
She told the BBC that the approval of a new law would open doors to start working together with the government to decrease the violence in her country. “We know that women are victims of a very patriarchal violence, and transsexuals are included in this group”.