Argentina has become the first country in South America to allow citizens to identify as nonbinary in national ID documents, including passports.
Starting this week, Argentinians who don't want to identify as male or female can choose to identify as nonbinary, unspecified and undefined, among other options, which will be indicated under the "X" gender marker.
Argentina’s Center-Left President Alberto Fernandez, together with the Minister of the Interior Eduardo de Pedro, and the Minister of Women, Gender and Diversity, Elizabeth Gómez, delivered the first three ID cards with the “X” marker during a ceremony last week after a notice about the decision was published in the official gazette, DW reported.
“The state should not care about the gender of its citizens,” Fernandez was quoted as saying.
“There are other identities than men and women and they must be respected,” he said, adding that there are “a thousand ways to love, to be loved and to be happy.”
He continued, “The ideal will be when all of us are just who we are and no one cares about people’s gender. This is a step we are taking and I hope one day we get to the point where IDs don’t say if someone is a man, woman or anything else.”
Argentina's Gender Identity Law states that individuals are guaranteed the right to identify themselves as neither male nor female, according to Merco Press.
The decision follows several controversial changes in the country over the last 12 years.
Last year, the country’s Congress legalized abortion up to the 14th week of pregnancy despite opposition by the influential Catholic Church and evangelicals, The Christian Post reported at the time.
In 2012, it legally allowed people to identify as the opposite sex without taking cross-sex hormones or having elective cosmetic surgeries to look more like the opposite sex. And in 2010, Argentina legalized same-sex marriage.
Some see the move to add an X marker to IDs as an effort to distract the public away from criticisms of the president's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
The online newspaper Crux Now noted last week that Argentina’s president “is currently facing blowback for what critics call one of the world’s worst handlings of the COVID-19 pandemic, to the point that Bloomberg recently labeled it the ‘worst' place to be during the global health crisis. Among other things, Argentina currently holds the highest number of deaths per capita and the poverty rate went up over 10 percent in the past 18 months, which means that close to half of the country cannot make ends meet.”