Argentina: Health Professionals Must Call Travestis and Transsexuals by their Chosen Names

SUMMARY

The minister of Health of the Province of Buenos Aires, Claudio Mate, signed Resolution 2359 June 5th, 2007. This regulation requires workers and professionals at hospitals in the province to respect gender identity by calling trans, travesti, or transsexual patients by their chosen names.

ACTION

IGLHRC invites you to send letters of congratulations to the Anti-Discriminatory Movement of Liberation (M.A.L.) and to the following authorities and institutions:

Ministerio de Salud de la Provincia de Buenos Aires
Sr. Ministro Claudio Mate
Ministry of Health of the Province of Buenos Aires
Mr. Minister Claudio Mate
privadams@ms.gba.gov.ar
Dirección de Atención Primaria de la Salud de la Provincia de Buenos Aires
Dr. Gustavo Marin
Direction of Primary Attention of Health of the Province of Buenos Aires
Dr. Gustavo Marin
Tel: +54 221 429 2736 / 37
scas@ms.gba.gov.ar
Secretaría de Derechos Humanos de la Provincia de Buenos Aires
Dirección de Igualdad y Oportunidades.
Secretariat of Human Rights of the Province of Buenos Aires
Direction of Equality and Opportunities
Mr. Diego Cao
Mr. Jorge Barrales
cao_dm@yahoo.com
Dirección de Derechos Humanos del Partido de La Matanza
Direction of Human Rights of Partido de la Matanza
Mrs. Gina Dinardo
gdinardo@lamatanza.gov.ar
Defensoría del Pueblo del Partido de La Matanza
Ombudsmen of Partido de la Matanza
Mrs. Silvia Caprino Alejandra Dulce Martines
defensoriadelpueblo_lamatanza@yahoo.com.ar
Comité de Bioética del Partido de La Matanza
Committee of Bioethics of Partido de la Matanza
Mrs. Patricia Firmenich
Tel/Fax: +54 11 4441 6788
Programa de VIH/SIDA del Partido de La Matanza
HIV/AIDS Program of Partido de la Matanza
Dr. Jorge Pueyo
Lic. Gabriela Fernandez
Tel/Fax: +54 11 4651 1381
provihlama@yahoo.com.ar
Hospital Teresa Germani
Dra. Silvia Cetani
Address: Av. Luro 6561 G. de Laferrere, (1757)
Tel: +54 11 4626 0315 / 4457 5445

Advisors:

Mauro Isac Cabral
micabral@fibertel.com.ar
Dr Marcelo Gustavo Feldman
magfeldman@yahoo.com.ar
Movimiento Antidiscriminatorio de Liberación (M.A.L.)
Anti-Disdriminatory Movement of Liberation
Diana Sacayan
amancaylafe@yahoo.com.ar
Marcelo Ernesto Ferreyra
IGLHRC
mfferreyra@iglhrc.org

BACKGROUND

Until now, travesti people and their families have faced extremely discriminatory, and almost always aggressive treatment at public health centers. They were excluded from the very first moment they entered the building. Nurses, medical personnel and doctors would make fun of their gender identity with offensive comments, even when the patient’s illness was very severe. If a travesti person demanded better care, they were often informed that if they did not like it, they could leave the hospital.

Upon arrival at a hospital, travesti people knew that they were exposing themselves to systematic violence, the disinterest of medical staff and poor care. For that reason, in medical situations, they refused it. Any other resource was preferable to subjecting oneself to those humiliations, event though the lack of treatment lead people to die.

Earlier this year several organizations of travestis and prostitutes, among them, the Anti-Discriminatory Movement of Liberación (M.A.L.), organized meetings to denounce gender discrimination against travestis and transsexual people in health institutions. They drafted a document to formalize their commitment to joint work to improve medical services through improving doctors’ personal attention and through the inclusion of travesti people in the health system.

Activists of the Anti-Discriminatory Movement of Liberation (M.A.L.) and other organizations raised their concerns to the minister of Health of Buenos Aires, Claudio Mate, and obtained his signature for Resolution 2359.

The resolution states that in concurrence with law 13.175 -of equitable access to the health services- “the agreement of the public hospitals regarding travesti and transexual people identifies the need to adopt tentative measures to respect their feminine and masculine identities” and a following paragraph advises the personnel of health centers to use the name chosen by the patient.

The terms ‘travesti’ and ‘travestis’ do not have an exact English translation, as they imply particular gender identities and expressions.

INTERNATIONAL LEGAL FRAMEWORK

Right to not being discriminated and right to the equality before the law: Protect ed by Articles 2 and 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human rights; Article 2 of International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; Articles 2 and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; Articles 1 and 24 of the Inter-American Convention of Human rights.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee affirmed in its decision in Toonen v Australia (1994) that existing protections against discrimination in Articles 2 and 26 of the ICCPR should be understood to include sexual orientation as a protected status. Numerous other human rights mechanisms of the United Nations have subsequently condemned discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Right to the benefit of the upper possible level of physical and mental health: Pact DESC (Article 12.1)

In terms of social rights, economic and cultural it is worth indicating that article 26 of the Inter-American Human Rights Convention compels to signatory states “to adopt measures progressively to obtain the total effectiveness of the rights that are derived from the economic, social and on education, science and culture norms contained in the Organization of the American States Letter" (who essentially enforces the rights protected by Pact DESC).

The right to Freedom of Expression is protected by UDHR (Article 19), ICCPR (Article 18), and IAHRC (Article 13).

Article 75,22 of Argentinean Constitution establishes the primacy of international treaties ratified by the country over national legislation. Article 16 of the same Constitution protects the right to the equality before the law.

Argentina ratified ICCPR and ICESCR on August 8, 1986, and IAHRC on September 5, 1984. The UDHR is considered part of customary international law, and binding on all member States of the United Nations, like Argentina.

In some USA cities like West Hollywood (1998), Ann Arbor (1999) and Chicago (2002) as well as in the state of Connecticut (2004) there are anti-discriminatory dispositions explicitly mentioning “gender identity”. In cities like Boston (2002) and the states of Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio (in all cases, since 2004) there are similar dispositions mentioning “gender identity and expression”. “Gender expression” refers to the way in which people express how they perceive themselves in terms of gender, through dress and behavior.