In Ecuador, one ingenious father discovered a method to use the legal system in his favor when engaging in a custody battle with his ex-spouse. Rene Salinas Ramos knew that women are more often granted rights over their children than men according to local legislation and thus decided on an extraordinary course of action – legally changing his gender from male to female! To showcase this new identity, he showcased his updated identification documents which listed “femenino” as part of its description to La Voz del Tomebamba news outlet.

In an attempt to regain his custody of his two daughters, the father took a drastic measure – he changed his gender. Even though Salinas still identifies as a male and has yet to transition physically, legally he is considered a woman, which ignited anger among transgender rights groups throughout South America.

When he made the decision to legally alter his gender identity, Salinas revealed that it had been a full five months since he last saw his daughters – an excruciatingly long time for any heartbroken father.

“The laws say that the one who has the right is the woman. As of this moment, I am female. Now I’m also a mom. That’s how I consider myself,” Salinas Ramos reportedly said. “I am very sure of my sexuality. What I have sought is that I want to be a mother, so that I can also give the love and protection of a mother.”

In order to gain an advantage in a custody battle, Salinas made the revolutionary decision to change his gender identity on official documents. His mission was not targeted at any specific group but rather he aimed it against the flawed system currently prevalent in South America. Although this move has caused fury and outrage amongst many transgender rights groups all over Ecuador, Salinas stands firm behind his actions as they were taken merely out of necessity.

“Being a father in this country, Ecuador is punished and looked at only as a supplier,” he said.

Diane Rodríguez, the director of the Ecuadorian Federation of LGBTI Organizations, issued an official condemnation against Salinas Ramos for using gender identity to circumvent existing laws.

“Although the optional gender change and sex change in the identity card of trans people is now a reality, it is important to indicate that the norm is not fully complied with,” the statement read. “We are surprised that a visibly cisgender man has passed with apparent ease the optional gender change in the I.D., even when we have denounced that in the same city of Cuenca, there have been problems for the recognition of gender and sex of Trans people.”

Trans rights activists have requested that the Ecuadorian government “make an interpretation on the application” of the existing legislation more thoroughly to prevent further cases such as Salinas Ramos’ from occurring.