Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 November 2014, 15:45 GMT

Mexico: Availability of sex change operations and legal status of gender of person who undergoes a sex change operation

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 1 November 1998
Citation / Document Symbol MEX30477.E
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Mexico: Availability of sex change operations and legal status of gender of person who undergoes a sex change operation, 1 November 1998, MEX30477.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6ab4332.html [accessed 26 November 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

 

The central information desk of the Civil Registry (Registro Civil) of the Federal District stated during a 16 November 1998 telephone interview that the courts of each state and of the Federal District are the authority that decides on questions of change of name or identity, with a person's case normally being handled by the courts of the state where he or she was born. However, the source was unaware of any case of sex or gender legal change.

A staff lawyer at the Central Court (Juzgado Central) of the Federal District of Mexico, which handles cases related to legal status, identification and personal documentation, stated during a 16 November 1998 telephone interview that, to the court's knowledge, neither Mexico nor its states has specific legislation pertaining to change of gender, and they do not legally acknowledge (no reconocen legalmente) a change of gender. A person retains, for legal identification and documentation purposes, the gender with which she or he has been identified since their birth. Because an individual's change of gender is not legislated in Mexico, it is not forbidden to change genders; but because there is no legislation for it, it is not legally recognized. The lawyer added that sex-change operations are not legally approved in Mexico, although this does not mean they are forbidden nor does it necessarily mean they are not carried out somewhere in the country.

A staff member of the Citizens' Committee Against Homophobic Hate Crimes (Comision Ciudadana Contra Crímenes de Odio por Homofobia), an organization in Mexico City that monitors legal issues and violence against homosexuals in Mexico, provided the information that follows during a 17 November 1998 telephone interview.

There is no legislation in Mexico addressing a change of gender, and thus, it is not forbidden to undergo a sex-change operation. Sex-change operations do take place in Mexico, although they are very expensive and therefore out of reach for many transgender persons. Regarding the legal status of persons who undergo a sex change, at a Latin American congress dealing with issues related to homosexuality held recently in Mexico, a Mexican transgender person presented her case: after undergoing a sex-change operation and the extensive related therapy, it took two years of legal efforts before the courts to have the name and gender status legally changed. This case, which was successfully concluded approximately two months ago, is the first and only case currently known in Mexico of legal acceptance of change of name and gender; it received little or no publicity, and has not yet been tested as a precedent for possible use for other cases or before other  courts.

A two-part article published in 1997 refers to surgery and protracted treatment applied in hospitals to infants who are born with ambiguous or hermaphroditic sexuality, to define their gender as clearly feminine or masculine (La Jornada 3-10 Feb. 1997). The report states that this is common practice in modern hospitals where a newborn is found to have an ambiguous or uncertain gender. However, the report does not include references to changes of gender or to cases of uncertain gender in adults.

Another 1997 article refers to a renowned plastic surgeon who performed 12 sex-change operations in Mexico, although more than 30 years ago, and "following the rules of the time;" two were practised on women, ten on men  (La Jornada 21 Dec. 1997). The report states that the surgeon decided to stop conducting such operations because of the psychological problems some patients presented; however, it does not discuss the current availability or practice of sex-change operations in Mexico.

During a 17 November 1998 telephone interview, the Mexican Academy of Surgery (Academia Mexicana de Cirugia) was unable to provide information on the current availability of sex-change operations in Mexico.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.

References

Academia Mexicana de Cirugia, Mexico City. 17 November 1998. Telephone interview with central information desk and staff.

Comision Ciudadana Contra Crimenes de Odio por Homofobia, Mexico City. 17 November 1998. Telephone interview with staff member.

Juzgado Central, Federal District of Mexico. 16 November 1998. Telephone interview with staff lawyer.

La Jornada [Mexico City]. 21 December 1997. Elena Gallegos. "Fernando Ortiz Monasterio, cirujano plastico: El unico limite es la imaginacion." [Internet] [Accessed 16 Nov. 1998]

_____. 10 February 1997. Javier Flores. "¿Cómo se controla la sexualidad?/II" [Internet] [Accessed 16 Nov. 1998]

_____. 3 February 1997. Javier Flores. ¿"Cómo se controla la sexualidad?" [Internet] [Accessed 16 Nov. 1998]

Registro Civil, Federal District of Mexico. 16 November 1998. Telephone interview with central information desk.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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