A father in Ecuador is identifying as a woman to see his kids
An Ecuadorian father recently legally changed his gender to female to improve his chances of gaining custody of his children. René Salinas Ramos doesn’t consider himself transgender, but instead made this decision in order to circumvent his country’s custody laws.
According to Ramos, his two daughters have been forced to live with their allegedly abusive mother, and that he hasn’t been able to see them for five months. Speaking to local media, he explained that fathers are “punished” in the country, and that he is “only seen as a provider”. Given that in Ecuador, as in many other nations, judges are significantly more likely to rule in favour of women in custody battles, he may have a point.
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Diane Rodriguez, a notable trans activist in Ecuador, asserted that Salinas Ramos’s legal change wasn’t in “the spirit of the law” but, in reality, his bid to be recognised as a woman exposes loopholes in the policy of self-ID.
Feminists concerned about self-ID laws tend to focus on the dangers of biological males entering women’s single-sex spaces and competing in women’s sports. They argue that gender recognition laws like the one recently passed in Scotland make it easier for men with malicious intentions or severe mental health conditions to attack or disturb women and girls at places where they are at their most vulnerable.
But this case shows that there are other ways in which the self-ID system can be exploited. As Salinas Ramos’s case shows, criminal intent is not the only reason biological men may choose to misuse an easily accessible ‘woman’ label.
It’s not just in the courtroom where biological males can benefit from the system either. Identifying as female could also grant biological males access to advantages in education and employment. EU countries allowing self-ID may see a rise in men identifying as women once employers start implementing the gender quota law recently passed by the European Parliament. The new directive will require 40% of non-executive board positions and 33% of executive seats to be filled by women in the bloc’s 27 countries. The earlier female retirement age may also appeal to many men. Will other biological males transition to advance their own careers?
Ultimately, the archetype of the damsel in distress and her ability to invoke chivalry has no male equivalent. Thanks to self-ID this uniquely feminine power, stemming from women’s perceived weakness, may now be available to men as well. In a culture that labels masculinity as toxic and sends mixed messages to men about how they should behave, living as a woman may seem like an easier way out. The peculiar example of René Salinas Ramos’s custody battle demonstrates that Ecuador’s law, and gender legislature more widely, may well need a rethink.