ACT to debate amendment to improve rights of transgender and intersex people
The ACT Legislative Council is set to debate amendments to the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act on Thursday that will eliminate the requirement for gender reassignment surgery before transgender people can change their sex on their birth certificate.
The change to the Act will eliminate discriminations that currently exist within the law. Previously gender diverse people may have been forced to use birth certificates that identified them as a different sex to that of their gender identity, causing many problems when it comes to employment and medical treatment.
Gender rights advocates, A Gender Agenda welcome the planned changes to ACT Birth Certificates.
“The changes also provide a clear mechanism for intersex people who want to change the sex recorded on their birth certificate,” said Peter Hyndal, spokesperson for A Gender Agenda.
“Previously, many gender diverse people have been forced to use birth certificates which show their sex as different from the way they identify and present. Intersex people have also not had a clear legislative pathway to amend errors made in the recording of their sex at birth. This predicament has raised very real safety and privacy issues for transgender and intersex people when going about their daily lives.
“We are aware of specific cases where individuals have experienced discrimination, verbal abuse and been denied services because the sex on their birth certificate did not match their presentation and identity,” commented Hyndal.
The changes being debated will also allow transgender and intersex people to show their sex as “X” if appropriate. The move brings the ACT into line with the Commonwealth Passport Policy and the Australian Government Guidelines on the Recognition of Sex and Gender.
Hyndal said whilst the planned changes to the Births Deaths and Marriages Act were a great start, more work needed to be done.
“The legislation as tabled will address a number of issues for transgender and intersex people in the ACT, but there is still more work to be done. The current practice of unnecessary medical intervention on intersex children and infants constitutes a fundamental breach of an individual’s right to autonomy over their own body, and requires urgent attention.
"Transgender and intersex people also currently experience unacceptably high levels of mental health and associated issues as a result of social stigma, discrimination and isolation. Funding specific programs to increase the capacity of mental health professionals, educational institutions and other community organisations is urgently required to effectively address these issues," Hyndal told GNN
Attorney General Simon Corbell who has been championing the landmark legislations said: "Transactions that most of us take for granted every day can become humiliating, embarrassing or simply impossible because of the conflict that currently exists between a person's outwards gender identification and how that is legally recorded on their birth certificate."
According to Corbell the ACT legislation will provide true inclusion for the nation's transgender and intersex people.
'Instead of requiring black and white distinctions that categorise rather than empathise, that allow for easy administration but not true inclusion, the ACT recognises sexual diversity,'' Corbell told the Canberra Times.