Argentina: Thank La Matanza Authorities for Agreeing to Approve Ordinance and Respect Trans Identities

Summary

After the La Matanza town council in Buenos Aires Province unanimously approved an ordinance requiring staff at county hospitals to call trans, travesti, or transsexual patients by their chosen names, Mr. Juan Pablo Incocciati, the La Matanza County Health Sub-Secretary, rejected it. This prevented the administrative changes needed to implement the ordinance from going ahead. Responding to pressure from activists, Mr. Fernando Espinoza, the La Matanza County Major, has overruled Mr. Incocciati and promised to implement the ordinance.

Among the rights involved in this case are:

  • The right to be free from discrimination
  • The right to freedom of expression
  • The right to an adequate standard of physical and mental health

Action

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) joins Movimiento Antidiscriminatorio de Liberación (M.A.L.) in asking that you send emails or faxes thanking La Matanza county authorities for their commitment to adopting the ordinance stipulating that travestis, transsexual and trans people should be called by their chosen names at public health centers.

Please send your letter to:

Mr. Fernando Espinoza, La Matanza Major
Telephone / Fax: +54 11 44413551
Electronic mail: fernandoespinoza@lamatanza.gov.ar
Mr. Juan Pablo Incocciati, La Matanza Health Sub Secretary.
Telephone / Fax: +54 11 4651-0740 or 4441-6788
Electronic mail: saludpublica@lamatanza.gov.ar
INADI - National Institute against Discrimination, Xenophobia and Racism
Address: Moreno 750, 1º piso, C1091AAP, Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires. Telephone: +54 11 4340 9407
Electronic mail: inadi@inadi.gov.ar
Mrs. Gina Dinardo, Human Rights director La Matanza County
Telephone: +54 11 4441 9130
Electronic mail: gdinardo@lamatanza.gov.ar
Mrs. Silvia Caprino Alejandra Dulce Martines, Ombudsmen of Partido de la Matanza
Telephone / Fax: +54 11 4482 6229
Electronic mail: defensoriadelpueblo_lamatanza@yahoo.com.ar
Dr. Jorge Pueyo, HIV/AIDS Program of Partido de la Matanza
Lic. Gabriela Fernandez
Telephone / Fax: +54 11 4651 1381
Electronic mail: provihlama@yahoo.com.ar
Diana Sacayan, Movimiento Antidiscriminatorio de Liberación (M.A.L.)
(Representative for ILGA-LAC South cone)
Electronic mail: amancaylafe@yahoo.com.ar

Please also send a copy of your letter to:

IGLHRC Latin American and the Caribbean Program
Electronic mail: fdelio@iglhrc.org

Background

Until very recently, travesti people and their families have faced extremely discriminatory, and often hostile treatment at public health centers. Doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel have habitually taunted them and made offensive comments about their gender identity, even in cases of severe illness.

In an attempt to promote basic dignity and respect for travesti people, activists from the Movimiento Antidiscriminatorio de Liberación (M.A.L.) and other organizations raised their concerns to the Buenos Aires Minister of Health, Claudio Mate and obtained his support for Resolution 2359, stating that in concurrence with law 13.175 relating to equitable access to health services, “the agreement of public hospitals regarding travesti and transexual people identifies the need to adopt measures to respect their feminine and masculine identities.” The Resolution also advised health center personnel to use patients’ chosen names. It was ultimately passed and signed on June 5, 2007.

Mr. Edgardo Lobos, a Councilman and member of the Civic Coalition Party in La Matanza, promoted a similar ordinance that was unanimously approved by the La Matanza town council.

However, Mr. Juan Pablo Incocciati, the Health Sub-Secretary for La Matanza, refused to approve the ordinance requiring workers and professionals at hospitals in the county to respect gender identity by calling trans, travesti, or transsexual patients by their chosen names. His refusal meant that the administrative changes needed to implement the ordinance couldn’t go ahead.

IGLHRC and M.A.L. issued an action alert on September 26, 2008, asking people to write to La Matanza county authorities requesting that they adopt without reservations the ordinance stipulating that travestis, transsexual and trans people should be called by their chosen names at public health centers. That same day, several local organizations, including Miser, M.A.L. and Youth for Diversity, held a demonstration against Health Sub-Secretary Incocciati’s position.

The following day, La Matanza Mayor, Mr. Fernando Espinoza expressed his disagreement with Mr. Incocciati to a local newspaper: " I was unaware of what had happened. Incocciati is an excellent Health Sub-Secretary, but obviously does not understand anything on this topic. I had not seen his opinion, but it is total madness. I fully agree with Mr. Lobos’ project." To confirm his support for the ordinance, he added, "I have already contacted the councilors of the ruling block to express my opinion. In the course of the next two meetings the project will be approved as ordinance. If not, I myself will present a project from the Executive. Travestis know that they can count on me, like when I was a councilman. What they claim is logical and I am already studying what was done in Rosario City to use it as model."

Local activists claim that the September 26 demonstration in front of La Matanza City Hall and the action alert issued by IGLHRC and M.A.L. were fundamental to opening a dialogue with civil servants.

IGLHRC and M.A.L. would like to thank everyone who responded to their September 26 action alert. To view that alert and learn more about the issue, click here:
http://www.iglhrc.org/cgi-bin/iowa/english/article/takeaction/globalactionalerts/206.html