World News

From Catalina to Alexis: Chilean teen first to legally change gender

Slideshow ( 9 images )

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - In 2016, Chilean 14-year old girl Catalina began to identify with friends and family as Alexis, a boy. It took Chile’s conservative, Roman Catholic legal system far longer to come around.

Alexis, who was born an identical twin with his sister Maria Ignacia, two weeks ago changed his name and sex in the civil registry, as well as on his birth certificate. The changes paved the way for him to this week request his first government-issued ID.

“I’m happy because I’m the first boy to change his gender legally,” Alexis said.

Chile’s centre-right President Sebastian Pinera late in 2018 signed into law a bill allowing people over the age of 14 to change their name and gender in official records.

The law marked a historic shift in the traditionally conservative, predominantly Roman Catholic country.

Chile legalized divorce in 2004, making it one of the last countries in the world to do so. And the country’s ban on abortion, one of the strictest in the world, was lifted only recently, in 2017, though for special circumstances only.

There are no official statistics for the number of trans people in Chile.

Reporting by Reuters TV; writing by Dave Sherwood; editing by Jonathan Oatis