Spain's parliament has passed a law allowing transsexuals to change their name and gender on official documents without needing to undergo surgery first.
The law, which had progressed through the country's lower legislative chamber earlier in the week, was opposed by the conservative opposition Popular Party.
The new legislation requires transsexuals to present an official medical diagnosis stating a clinically proven case of gender dysfunction and to have undergone appropriate treatment for two years before changes in identity documents can be performed.
Up until now, transsexuals in Spain could only change name and gender officially after a sex change operation and with the approval of law courts.
Pedro Zerolo, spokesman for social affairs in the ruling socialist party and Carla Antonelli, who represents gay and lesbian interests in the party, said "Spain has placed itself at the forefront of Europe, as a leader in transsexual rights."
Zerolo said the law would bring Spain into line with countries such as Britain, whose Gender Recognition Act also loosened restrictions on transsexuals in 2004.
Legislation easing social barriers on transsexuals is the latest in a series of laws aimed at promoting greater social equality in Spain since the Socialist government came to power in March 2004.
Same gender marriages were approved by parliament in this once staunchly Catholic and conservative country in 2005.