For the first time, transsexuals in Argentina will have the option to be officially recognised with the gender they identify without first seeking court or medical approval.

Speaking at a ceremony at the presidential palace in Buenos Aires, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez handed out the National Identity Cards to a handful of transsexuals in attendance, featuring their name, photo, and for the first time, the gender with which they identify.

Fernandez declared that the new law would bring about greater equality in Argentina.

"I want to say something about all of you. Today you are going to have the same rights that I and millions of Argentines have had from the day we were born. This is the society that we want. A society of reparation for everything you've had to go through to reach this point."

Before the law was passed, applicants had to meet medical or psychiatric criteria in order to change their gender on official documents, meaning that those who desired to be of a different biological sex were discriminated against unless they took hormonal treatments or underwent sex reassignment surgery.

Majamara Abrodos, a transsexual woman whop receieved an ID card at the ceremony, spoke of what the new law meant to transsexuals across the country.

"It is the freedom to be who you are, to live openly in your country being who you are, that is all. It is nothing more and nothing less for us who for so many years were denied this. It's basically to learn to live in freedom and to live freely, which is tough."

Argentina has been at the forefront of equality issues in Latin America, becoming the first South American nation to pass a law recognising same sex marriage in July 2010.

In another liberal move, the President used the ceremony to sign a decree that allows children of same-sex married couples to have the last names of both their parents on their identification documents.