Transgender rights in Brazil
Unanimously, the 3rd Class of the Superior Court of Justice approved allowing the option of name and gender change on the birth certificate of a transgender person who has undergone gender reassignment surgery.
The understanding of the ministers was that it made no sense to allow people to have such surgery performed in the free federal health system, Sistema Único de Saúde, and not allow them to change their name and gender in the civil registry.
The ministers followed the vote of the rapporteur, Nancy Andrighi. "If Brazil consents to the possibility of surgery, it should also provide the means for the individual to have a decent life in society," she said. In the opinion of the rapporteur, preventing the record change for a trans person who has gone through sex reassignment surgery could constitute a new form of social prejudice, and cause more psychological instability.
"The issue is delicate. At the beginning of compulsory civil registry, distinction between the two sexes was determined according to the genitalia. Today there are other influential factors, and that identification can no longer be limited to the apparent sex. There is a set of social, psychological problems that must be considered. Vetoing this exchange would be putting the person in an untenable position, subject to anxieties, uncertainty, and more conflict," she said.
According to Minister João Otávio Noronha of the Superior Court of Justice, transgender people should have their social integration ensured with respect to their dignity, autonomy, intimacy and privacy, which must therefore incorporate their civil registry.
In 2008, Brazil's public health system started providing free sex reassignment surgery in compliance with a court order. Federal prosecutors had argued that sex reassignment surgery was covered under a constitutional clause guaranteeing medical care as a basic right.
The Regional Federal Court agreed, saying in its ruling that "from the biomedical perspective, transsexuality can be described as a sexual identity disturbance where individuals need to change their sexual designation or face serious consequences in their lives, including intense suffering, mutilation and suicide."
Patients must be at least 18 years old and diagnosed as transgender with no other personality disorders, and must undergo psychological evaluation with a multidisciplinary team for at least two years, begins with 16 years old. The national average is of 100 surgeries per year, according to the Ministry of Health of Brazil.
The Supreme Federal Court ruled on March 1, 2018 that a transgender person has the right to change their official name and sex without the need of surgery or professional evaluation, just by self-declaration of their psychosocial identity. On June 29, the Corregedoria Nacional de Justiça, a body of the National Justice Council published the rules to be followed by registry offices concerning the subject.
- Transgenders can change their name, as decided by the Supreme Court of Justice (in Portuguese)
- Gender reassignment surgery is free in Brazil (in Portuguese)
- Jurisprudence of the Changing legal gender assignment in Brazil by Superior Court (in Portuguese)
- The Superior Court of Justice allows transsexuals to change name and sex on birth certificate (in Portuguese)
- Legal change of name in Brazil (in Portuguese) Archived December 23, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
- Sex-change in Brazil (in Portuguese)
- Brazil to provide free sex-change operations (in English)
- Transexuals can now change their names in documents at registry offices throughout the country (in Portuguese)