A FOUR-YEAR-OLD girl from the Basque Country has become the youngest transsexual in Spain to be given permission to change her name officially on the Civil Register.
Lucía, who turned four in October, was born in Asteasu (Guipúzcoa province) and named Luken, which is 'Lucas' in the Basque language, euskera.
But as soon as she was old enough to start speaking, Lucía started to refer to herself as a girl – even though she has two older and one younger brother.
She had barely had any contact with other girls by then.
“In euskera, which is the language we speak as a family, adjectives do not change into masculine or feminine the way they do in Castilian Spanish,” explains mum Abigail Labayen.
“But Lucía immediately switched to Spanish, even at the age of three, to be able to express the difference.
“She started to refer to herself in the feminine and often asked if other girls had a penis like her.”
Whilst searching online for answers, Abigail and her husband came across the association Chrysallis, which supports families of transsexual children.
As yet, State law does not allow a minor – aged under 18 – to change their name or gender on the Civil Register, meaning the only way they can do so is on the grounds of 'habitual use' of the new name corresponding with their real gender.
Families of some 30 or so boys and girls in Spain have successfully done so, but although many are still in primary school, Lucía, at four, is the youngest.
Lucía's parents say the name-change process was in fact very easy – all they needed was a report from her paediatrician, another from her school, and a third from the mayoress of their town.
They would normally also need a psychiatric report, but the judge allowed it through on the basis of the paperwork provided.
Secretary and legal advisor for Chrysallis, Javier Maldonado, says the first victory for parents of a minor trying to change their transsexual child's name was as recent as 2013, when a judge in Córdoba found it 'necessary in the child's interest'.
Although around 30 have managed to do so, at least another dozen are still waiting or have lost their case to do so.
The average age at which transsexual children apply to change their names is nine, says Chrysallis, although they range from Lucía, at four, up to 17.
Whether or not they can do so is a postcode lottery – courts in Granada tend to be liberal enough to agree to it, whilst those in Sevilla are among the least cooperative, Chrysallis says.
But the association is confident that the next national government will amend the law so that underage transsexuals can change their name and gender on the Civil Registry.
In fact, all political parties have included this in their agenda, except for the acting government, the right-wing PP.
Abigail says she did not tell her daughter that her name had been 'officially' changed at first.
“As far as Lucía was concerned, everything was in order as soon as they changed the label on her coat-peg at school,” she explains.
“But when we got the court verdict in our favour, we did tell her, and she started to cry with emotion.
“She asked whether 'that was it' and she would no longer be called 'any other name except Lucía'.”
The family's next challenge will be to try to change the M for 'male' to F for 'female' on her identity card.
In Spain, under-18s cannot undergo a sex-change, or gender reassignment operation, but they are usually allowed to take hormones at puberty to ensure they develop into the 'right' gender.