A society in which individuals may legally select a gender other than their biological sex has had some tragic consequences, some concerning the legal protections alotted to biological women. One of these outcomes is on display in the media now. This summer, a Spanish woman, Carmen, was attacked by a man, Agustín, who months earlier had legally altered his gender to female: a manoeuvre that restricts the woman from prosecuting her attacker to the full extent of the law.
When she took her complaints to the police on August 15th she found out the hard way just how complicit the legal apparatus has become in upholding the charade of gender reassignment.
In Spain, a man who attacks and harms a woman is violating the country’s gender violence law. Woman-on-woman violence is prosecuted under the domestic violence law, which is far more lenient in its treatment of the perpetrator. By legally changing his name and his gender, Agustín has legally bound the courts to treat him as a woman, leaving Carmen mostly unprotected in the face of his violence.
Carmen and Augustín, now legally Julia (all fictitious names protect their privacy), began their relationship in 2011. Just over 50 years old, they were a normal couple until 2020, Carmen told the Spanish newspaper ABC, when Augustin started to wear women’s clothes occasionally at home. At first Carmen thought it was just a fetish, but later he told her he felt more like a woman and wanted to start taking feminising hormones.
She told him that she would support him as friend, but she was heterosexual and was not interested in a romantic relationship with him as woman.
That’s when the harassment started, she relates. His invasive behaviours—climbing in the bathtub with her uninvited or touching her unwantedly in her sleep—caused her to put a lock on her door. She didn’t move out because she couldn’t afford her own apartment on her small pension.
The turning point came on August 15th. She arrived home from visiting her grandchildren to find the lock on her bedroom door forced open and her belongings strewn everywhere. When she questioned Agustín, he insulted her, pushed, and hit her, leaving her with bleeding scratches. She went to hospital to have her injuries documented and then to the police station. It was there at the station where she found out that her male partner had changed his name to Julia and his gender to female four months earlier.
Later in August, another incident occurred that caused her to call the police. Agustín locked her out of their apartment for five hours. Pressured by the police, Agustín opened the door dressed as a man, but because of his legal status as ‘woman,’ the police could do no more than give him a scolding.
Carmen is being defended by a group of feminist lawyers, who are challenging the legality of the documents Agustin presented for his on-paper sex change. Carmen told ABC that he had seen a psychologist in the public health system specialized in ‘transsexuality’ who had diagnosed him with crossdressing tendencies but not as transsexual.
Carmen could soon lose any chance of adequately defending herself. The socialist-led government wants to make it easier to change sex legally and is trying to push through Congress a law that would eliminate any medical requirements to legally change sex—allowing for the administrative change simply at the person’s request.
It’s a move that, as Carmen has experienced, could easily eliminate the protection for women the Gender Violence Law proposes to provide.