Social Progress for the Puerto Rican Trans Community


In the midst of chaos, mass school shootings, and an overall seemingly lack of progress steps forward were taken in the fight for Puerto Rican LGBT+ rights and equality. April 3rd. 2018 marked the day where federal judge Carmen Consuelo Cerezo declared Puerto Rico’s policy against allowing transgender people to fix their birth certificates as unconstitutional in the case Arroyo v. Roselló.

Puerto Ricans will now be able to correct their birth certificates.\

Lambda Legal, the organization involved in this lawsuit, is a nonprofit national organization whose purpose is to advocate for the civil rights of the LGTBQ+ community and anyone living with HIV.



Lambda Legal joined a pro bono co-counsel from Ropes & Gray to challenge Puerto Rico’s ban on correcting gender markers in birth certificates. The court determined Puerto Rico’s policy on correcting birth certificates as unconstitutional because “the forced disclosure of plaintiff’s transgender status violates their fundamental right to informational privacy”. The policy also placed trans Puerto Ricans’ safety at risk and invalidated their identity by forcing them to legally abide by a gender that they did not identify with.

Although successful, this lawsuit win did not come easy. After being filed in April 2017, The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico moved to dismiss the legal case. However, after opposing to the motion, the District Court denied dismissing it on August 29, 2017. Finally, victory was achieved on April 3rd, 2018.

This comes as the first step of many towards obtaining equality for the LGTBQ+ community. Especially in Puerto Rico, where we are heavily influenced by a mostly Catholic regime that dictates and restricts a lot of progress towards diversity. Finally, trans Puerto Rican identities will be legally validated. The government will have to recognize thousands of identities, and though this might not sound like much, this is a huge step towards making sure that every voice and person is heard.