Transgendered people across the world struggle to have official recognition of the gender they identify with instead of the one they were born with, and have met with success in some countries. But a man in Argentina has caused controversy by officially changing his gender so he can take advantage of benefits the government offers to women.
Argentinian newspaper Informate Salta, based in the Salta Province in the northern part of the country, reported that a 60-year-old government worker, Sergio Lazarovich, recently changed her gender from 'male' to 'female'. The reason: she wanted to retire five years early and retain her pension.
In Argentina, women retire at the age of 60. Men have to wait five years longer to retire with the same benefits. Lazarovich's case came to public light after her relative outed her as someone who only changed gender to retire early, and said Lazarovich did not identify as a woman.
Laws in Argentina allow any individual to change their official gender to reflect the one they identify with. It is among the few countries in the world to allow such a change without the need to produce proof that the individual is undergoing therapy or is under medication. Solely on the basis of legality, Lazarovich may not have broken any laws.
The relative who made the revelation said they had chosen to come out with the information as they felt Lazarovich was cheating the pension system. They also said Lazarovich had felt it was unfair that men had to work five years more than women to be eligible for the pensions. The relative said Lazarovich had planned this for three years with the advice of lawyers.
When confronted by media outlets, Lazarovich said the decision to change gender was personal. "The motivations are mine, and I do not have to explain anything to anyone," she was quoted as saying by the El Tribuno newspaper.
Officials in Salta reportedly said Lazarovich has not yet applied for the state pension, and confirmed that she would be eligible for it. They said government lawyers would decide on the legitimacy of Lazarovich's claim once it is filed.