Mexico has the second-highest rate of murder and violence against the transgender community in the world. The discrimination, violence and exclusion perpetuated by Mexico’s “macho” society as a drastic effect on the lives of transgender people. The security and human rights of these people are vulnerable, and constantly violated. Nevertheless, Mexico offers some of the most progressive laws for transgender people, including hormonal treatment at no cost as well as legal options for people to change their name and gender identity.
Since July 2009, La Condesa Clinic in Mexico City has offered a free gender change service that includes hormonal, physical and psychiatric treatment. Although the program requires clients to meet certain parameters around 1,700 trans women and men from different parts of the country have already approached the clinic to begin treatment. On March 13, 2004, amendments to the Mexico City Civil Code allowed transgender people to change their gender identity and the name recorded on their birth certificates, so they can legally transition into their new gender.
Maria Fernanda, a 25-year-old transwoman from Mexico City, has received free hormonal treatments at La Condesa Clinic since 2015. She is an example of the successful results that are possible for transgender people when governments offer progressive solutions. On May 31, 2015, Maria Fernanda changed her given name, “Mario Eduardo” to “Maria Fernanda,” and changed her assigned sex to female on her new birth certificate. Nowadays, Maria Fernanda is pursuing a degree in informatics and creating her own fashion brand, breaking stereotypes commonly associated with transgender people.
The birth certificate law, coupled with free hormonal and psychological treatment, has become an engine of social change among the trans community in Mexico. Thanks to this, transgender people have access to the health care system, suffer less discrimination, and have better job opportunities. All of this has given the trans community a better quality of life, avoiding the sex or entertainment industry work that was once their only option. While the United States and other countries move towards more discriminatory policies against transgender people, Maria Fernanda's life in Mexico challenges misconceptions over the lack of human rights in “developing” countries.