IACHR warns about bills that limit the human rights of trans, non-binary, and gender-diverse persons in the region

December 29, 2021

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) calls on States to refrain from passing and implementing legislation with discriminatory intent and effects against trans, non-binary, and gender-diverse persons. These initiatives, in addition to being contrary to international obligations concerning the right to equality and non-discrimination, reinforce and institutionalize social prejudices that motivate acts of violence and social exclusion suffered by trans, non-binary, and gender-diverse persons from an early age.

During 2021, the IACHR has observed the processing and adoption of legal initiatives that perpetuate the pathologizing of trans persons, negate their identities, and promote their social exclusion, including at school. This occurs in a context of regressive measures that are contrary to a gender and diversity perspective, as previously noted by the Commission.
In this regard, the Commission learned of bills in states within the United States that prohibit trans children and adolescents from participating in athletic activities on teams that correspond to their gender identity, including House Bill 25, recently passed in the State of Texas. Similarly, the Commission has observed the advancement of initiatives, including House Bill 454 in Ohio, among others, that seek to prohibit children and adolescents from, as well as punish them for, accessing gender affirming services, even when there is parental consent. At the same time, the IACHR recognizes the United States Government’s express commitment, in Executive Order of March 8, 2021, to guarantee federal protection against discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation in the educational environment.

Additionally, the Commission received information concerning Bill No. 5940 in Guatemala, which would reform ordinary laws with the alleged purpose of protecting children and adolescents from so-called "gender identity disorders," perpetuating the pathologizing notion that, historically, has motivated acts of violence and discrimination against trans, non-binary and gender diverse persons. The IACHR recalls the situation of special vulnerability of trans, non-binary, and gender-diverse children and adolescents, who are more exposed to discrimination, harassment, and physical, sexual, and psychological violence in schools, within families, and in community environments. The report on Trans and Gender Diverse People and their Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights highlights that educational environments that are hostile toward trans children and adolescents cause them to drop out of school and deepen their social exclusion.

Similarly, the IACHR recalls that, in light of the Inter-American Court’s Advisory Opinion No. 24/17, the standards concerning the right to gender identity are fully applicable to children and adolescents. As such, it reiterates its call upon the States of the region to guarantee the recognition of the gender identities of trans, non-binary, and gender-diverse persons in light of inter-American standards.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 353/21

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