Gender requirements are ‘discriminatory’, say lobby groups.
Queensland parents may soon have the option of not declaring a gender for their babies on their birth certificates, according to a new proposal.
The details of the proposal were discussed with two women’s groups earlier this month, where they were told the terms ‘mother’ and ‘father’ could also be optional.
Under the changes, people would also be allowed to change their gender every 12 months, and they could choose any descriptor for their gender on the document, excluding numbers, symbols or offensive language.
Children aged between 12 and 16 could identify as another gender if they had the support from one or both parents, while under 12s would at least need the support from both.
Anyone over the age of 16 would be able to self-identify as another gender as long as they had a supporting statement from someone who’s known them for at least 12 months, reports the Courier Mail.
Evidence from child health practitioners and legal support may also be needed.
Under current laws, children are assigned a gender by their parents before they reach 60 days of age.
Critics say this is discriminatory to ‘intersex’ people, places pressure on parents to ‘nominate a gender’, and makes officially changing a gender ‘more arduous’, as it means a change of birth certificate.
A Queensland Department of Justice and Attorney-General spokesman said the changes being considered were to “improve recognition for trans and gender diverse people”.
The spokesperson also confirmed the terms ‘mother’ and ‘father’ wouldn’t be removed from birth certificates, but said other options would be made available.
“Consideration is being given to additional options to allow same sex couples to register as mother/mother or father/father, if they choose to.”
If these changes were adopted, it would align Queensland with other jurisdictions in Australia.
In 2016, the Australian Human Rights Commission called for reforms to changing gender on official documents, saying individuals should be handed the power to decide their gender identity for themselves, without prior approval from doctors and psychologists.
Since this moment, many states have begun breaking down barriers and guidelines to allow for this to happen.
ALREADY ON BOARD
In 2018, the Tasmanian government tabled amendments to legislation removing the need for transgender people to divorce their partners if they want their birth certificates changed.
In late 2019, Tasmania became the first state to allow its citizens (especially transgender/agender people) to obtain a birth certificate that “accurately reflects their gender identity“.
In 2019, Victoria enforced its new rules that allowed trans persons to change the recorded sex on their birth certificates without having to undergo a sex affirmation surgery.
The same year, Victoria also amended rules to allow a child’s birth registration to recognise both parents as “mother” or “father” or “parent”.
In aligning the Northern Territory with changes to the the Federal Marriage Act at the time, Parliament broadened the rights for transgender and gender-neutral people in 2018.
The laws allow people to identify as “non-binary” on their birth certificate, acknowledge “intersex” on birth certificates and allow transgender people to change the sex listed on their birth certificate without them having undergone any gender reassignment surgery.
NOT ALL THE WAY THERE YET
South Australia is the closest state outside of these locations to be closing in on the end of optional gender on birth certificates, with loose guidelines already existing across the state.
A person of or above the age of 18 years can currently apply for registration of a change of sex or gender identity if: 1) the person provides a statement by a medical practitioner or 2) psychologist certifying that the person has undertaken a sufficient amount of appropriate clinical treatment.
Note the general term ‘clinical’, not surgical or physico-medical. Also note also that a psychologist (not even a psychiatrist) can provide the statement.
This means that you can change your gender on your birth certificate simply through a process of self-definition with some professional involvement. If you’re South Australian and you can’t find a psychologist to make that affirmation, throw a rock in North Terrace, and you’ll hit one who can help you.
New South Wales
NSW is currently one of the few jurisdictions in Australia that requires transgender people to undergo gender affirmation surgery to change the sex marker on their birth certificates.
You must reconstruct your physical sexual characteristics to be able to do so, in other words.
However, things are changing.
The NSW government recently announced the launch of commemorative Rainbow birth certificates as part of the 2022 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival celebrations.
“The launch of our Rainbow certificate provides a special way for people to celebrate the birth of a new family member and uplift and empower the LGBTIQA+ community,” said NSW Registrar Amanda Lanna in a statement.
Lanna revealed that the government conducted a ‘Have Your Say’ survey, which showed overwhelming support for a birth certificate with a Rainbow design.
The LGBTQIA+ community is calling for more reform on the issue.
In 2018, the Western Australian Law Reform Commission recommended leaving gender off birth certificates, as well as adding a third official option of non-binary.
However, Western Australia’s Attorney General John Quigley has confirmed the McGowan Government has not ‘fully considered’ this report on trans and intersex rights, as of May 2020.
Premier McGowan cited COVID-19 as a reason the government has “not been in a position to fully respond to the report,” while assuring LGBTQIA+ voters that a “re-elected McGowan Government remains committed to LGBTIQ+ law reform commenced in Government.
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