Propping up patriarchy: Threats of the growing anti-gender movement

In the past year we have seen a number of countries implement laws that recognise diverse gender identities and expand the rights of transgender people. Uruguay is one such example. In October 2018, Congress passed a law setting out legal gender recognition through self-determination, defining gender-affirming surgery and hormone therapy as a right paid for by the national government, reserving 1% of government jobs for transgender people, and setting up a fund to pay reparations to trans people who were persecuted under the military dictatorship from 1973 to 1985.

We have also seen major reform on the international stage through multilateral systems and mechanisms. For example, the World Health Organization, a specialised agency of the United Nations, removed transgender identities from the mental health disorders classification in June 2018. The Caribbean Court of Justice ruled in November 2018 that a law in Guyana which made it a criminal offence to appear in a public place dressed in the clothing of the opposite sex is unconstitutional.

Despite these historic gains, we are also witnessing a rise in right-wing nationalism and so-called anti-gender movements targeting gender equality, advocating for exclusion of LGBTIQ people, and extreme restrictions on sexual and reproductive health and rights with far-reaching consequences. This has led to a rise in queerphobic and especially transphobic rhetoric coming from political actors, and, in some cases, systematic attempts to roll back progress made to recognise the diversity of gender identities.

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