Mexico: Mexico City Amends Civil Code to Include Transgender Rights

On March 13, 2004, amendments to the Mexico City Civil Code [entered into force] that allow transgender people to change the sex and name recorded in their birth certificates.

Transgender organizations had worked intensively on this proposal. On December 2, 2003, Mexico City Major, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, submitted the proposal for reform to the City Council. The proposal was passed without much controversy, on January 26, 2004.

As a result of the reforms, Article 135 has been amended to allow modification of data in a person's birth certificate "upon request to change a name or any other essential data affecting a person’s civil status, filiations, nationality, sex and identity".

Transgender activists in Mexico City consider that the inclusion of the term "identity" is of fundamental importance, as it will allow also non-operative and pre-operative trans people to request a change of their names in birth certificates.

In the past, transgender people who wanted to change the names and/or sex registered in their birth certificates in Mexico City were required to make an appeal before the court, in a process that was costly, time consuming and depended on the will of a particular judge.

Birth certificates and other ID papers (like, in Mexico, voter identification cards) are very important in Latin American countries, as they are needed for almost all transactions involving the individual civil and political rights. For example, without a birth certificate you cannot obtain a voter identification card, and without that one you can not purchase or rent a home, be legally employed, obtain a passport, attend school, vote, qualify for government funded financial assistance, or be treated in public hospitals. Not having ID papers, or having ID papers that contradict one's appearance, can be invoked as a reason for arrest – with the consequent risk of extortion and abuse at the hands of police.

This extraordinary achievement follows the spirit and the text of the Federal Law to Prevent and End Discrimination, passed by the Mexican Federal Parliament in June 2003. The law forbids any form of discrimination based on "sexual preferences" but also on "appearance, mannerism, and expression of one's sexual preference or gender".