An Ecuadorian man has changed his gender to gain custody of his children.
“Self-determined gender is a cornerstone of a person’s identity. The resulting obligation of States is to provide access to gender recognition in a manner consistent with the rights to freedom from discrimination, equal protection of the law, privacy, identity and freedom of expression.”
So says the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in a sterling affirmation of gender fluidity as a human right.
However, the possibilities arising from liberation from cisgender normativity have still not been fully realised in the United States and other Anglophone countries. People have been changing their gender on passports, ID cards, and birth certificates to validate their authentic gendered self. It’s part of a patchwork of solutions to gender dysphoria. Boring.
In Latin America people have been far more creative in exercising these new-found freedoms.
In 2021 a new party, Fuerza por Mexico (FxM) was having trouble meeting gender parity requirement for electoral lists. Fortunately, 18 of its candidates in the state of Tlaxcala, to the west of Mexico City, were courageous enough to embrace their true gender identity. Appearances notwithstanding, they always had been women.
Some people churlishly alleged that this was just a self-serving charade. However, the Tlaxcala electoral commission declared that it was wrong to doubt the reality of the candidates’ gender self-identification. How could you? Only the candidates know whether they are male or female or whatever. Biology has nothing to do with it.
And now an Ecuadorian dad caught up in a messy divorce case has declared that he is really a woman, and therefore a mother of his two daughters. The possibility of changing gender came as godsend to him, because a judge had declared that she could only grant custody to the children’s mother.
As El Universo reports, just after Christmas René Salinas Ramos legally changed his gender in the registry office of the city of Cuenca. René, a journalist, is confident of her true sex, but was willing to sacrifice the sex she was assigned at birth to subvert a legal system which gives women more rights in custody cases. “This is a proof of my love for my children,” says Ms Salinas.
Ecuador appears to be far more progressive than the United States. Since 2015, its citizens have been able to change their gender, provided that they are of legal age and that two witness can testify to the autonomy of their decision. Unfortunately they can only do this once and it has to last for at least two years, unlike the even more progressive state of Victoria, in Australia, where genders can be changed every 12 months.
Hopefully this will bring to an end a very sticky situation. He, or rather she, has not seen one of her daughters for a year and a half. The other, she alleges, is being physically mistreated. She would like custody of the girls.
However, the court has declared that until the case is resolved, the children must remain with “su mamá”, their mother.
No sooner said than done. René is now a mother of her daughters.
“Now that I am a woman, I can be a mother and I am on an equal footing to fight for my daughters’ parental rights,” Salinas told La Voz de Tomebomba.
“I haven’t seen my daughters for more than five months. I can be a mother too, I know how to cook, give love, do the ironing and other motherly things,” explained Salinas.
With respect, it does appear that René Salinas is trying to game Ecuador’s law on gender recognition. It’s impossible to know the real story behind this custody dispute. However, René’s tactic is more honourable than the one used by male criminals masquerading as women who live in women’s prisons to have more lenient conditions and access to sex.
Or mediocre athletes who break women’s sporting records.
Once reality is abandoned as the basis for law, there’s no telling how gender fantasies will be exploited to gain power, adulation, or sex.
Michael Cook is the editor of MercatorNet. He lives in Sydney, Australia. More by Michael Cook
EDITORS NOTE: This MercatorNet column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.