The ITF Condemns Transphobic Legislation in Guatemala

The ITF strongly condemns a recent transphobic legislative initiative introduced in the Congress of Guatemala. We stand in solidarity with the trans and nonbinary community against a bill that seeks to define trans and non-binary identities as “disorders”, and seeks to criminalize all public debate on trans acceptance and rights. In December 2021, a group of twenty-one lawmakers in Congress’ Commission on Education, Science, and Technology advanced a bill that would stigmatize trans and nonbinary identities and violate children’s and adolescents’ right to education. 

Bill 5940 claims to “protect children from gender identity disorders” when in reality it is a discriminatory attempt to ban the dissemination of any information about trans identity in sex education classes in schools. The bill seeks to impose restrictions on media, requiring programs with gender identity content to be labeled as “not recommended” for minors. Preventing access to science-based information about gender and sexuality for children violates their rights and directly contradicts freedom of speech.

Diversity of gender identity and expression is completely natural for society. Gender is a spectrum and any attempt to demonize gender identity is an attack on human rights. Trans and nonbinary people pose no threat to others and deserve safety, respect and inclusion. 

Pathologizing trans and nonbinary people runs counter to the established international medical consensus. “Gender identity disorder” and “transsexualism” have been removed from the World Health Organization’s latest International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) “Mental and Behavioral Disorders” chapter and are not considered disorders in the medical community. Pathologizing trans identities historically leads to greater violence and motivates hate.

This retrogressive legislative initiative supported by the Congress of Guatemala is unscientific and cruel. It stigmatizes an already vulnerable trans and nonbinary community calling it “a corrupting influence, harmful to children”.  Central America remains among the regions with the highest rates of attacks against trans individuals. Bill 5940 would deepen the stigma and put people’s lives at risk.  Recent reports have shown that the government of Guatemala had failed to adequately protect LGBT people against violence.

We urge the Congress of Guatemala to reject the bill and instead promote respect and equality, focusing on preventing pervasive violence and discrimination that trans and nonbinary people face and uphold children’s right to comprehensive education.

We would like to acknowledge the amazing work done by the trans activist community of Guatemala and our former grantee partner Colectivo Trans-Formacion. You can visit their website: or get in touch with the group’s coordinator Alex Rodrigo Castillo [email protected] 


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