Uruguay's congress Monday approved a sex change law, the latest liberal move by the tiny South American nation which has also given the nod to civil unions for gays and adoptions by gay couples.
The sex change bill, approved by the Senate on Monday and last month by the Chamber of Deputies, sets the legal guidelines for men and women who want to change from one gender to the other.
"Every person has the right to freely develop their personality in accordance with the proper identity of their gender, independent of their biological, genetic, anatomic... identity," reads the text.
The measure, which authorizes sex changes starting at age 18, allows people to change their name and sex on identification documents and now awaits President Tabare Vazquez's signature to become law.
An early draft of the legislation allowed people to choose a different gender starting at age 12.
The law however sets roadblocks to gay marriage: "This law does not modify the matrimonial regulations in effect under the Civil Code," the legislation reads.
Uruguay lawmakers last month adopted a trailblazing law allowing gay and lesbian couples to adopt children, in an unprecedented move in Latin America.
The gay adoption law was backed by Vazquez and his ruling coalition but faced strong condemnation from the Roman Catholic Church.
Uruguay, a nation of some 3.5 million people, already authorized gay civil unions last year in a departure from its more conservative neighbors in the region.
Vazquez, the first leftist leader in Uruguayan history, also opened access for homosexuals to military schools in May despite huge opposition from the country's religious leaders and some right-wing politicians.