Current Affairs

Australia: Trans and intersex inclusive birth certificate amendments considered by lawmakers

Joseph McCormick February 18, 2013
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Birth certificates in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) could soon be more inclusive of transgender and intersex people, by ceasing to require gender reassignment before allowing people to alter the gender on a birth certificate.

The ACT government is in the process of considering changes to birth, death and marriage certificates which could extend the options under gender to include intersex and indeterminate, as well as male and female.

The Law Reform Advisory Council recommended the changes to the government, and the cabinet will be considering the changes in coming weeks.

The report, titled ‘Beyond the Binary: Legal Recognition of Sex and Gender Diversity in the ACT,’ calls for an end to the requirement of gender reassignment surgery, before a person can alter the gender displayed on a birth certificate, reports the Canberra Times.

The report reads:  ”It is the view of the council that to give legal recognition to intersex people, the available categories for the registration of a person’s sex should be any of female, male, intersex and indeterminate.

”The category of intersex will ensure that if a decision was made to assign the sex ‘female’ or ‘male’ to an intersex child at or after their birth, and it later becomes apparent that the assigned sex does not align with the child’s sex and gender identity, it is possible for the child, at a later stage of their life, to alter the record of their sex not only to male or female as the case may be, but also to intersex.

”The category of ‘indeterminate’ should be used only when it is not possible to determine the sex of a premature still-born child.”

The council criticised the current policy on altering birth certificates, and the authors of the report wrote: ”The requirement that a person must undergo ‘sexual reassignment surgery’ to apply to alter the record of their sex can rightly be said to be inhumane.”

”It violates a person’s human rights to privacy and to bodily integrity, the right to freedom from torture, and the right to equal legal status unless they submit to invasive medical procedures.”

Simon Corbell, Attorney General, said the changes were being considered by the government, but he said that he could not pre-empt the decision of the cabinet.

He said: ”We are anticipating amendments to the Births Deaths and Marriages Act as a result of the recommendations of the Law Reform Advisory Council’s inquiry and report on the treatment of intersex and transgender persons.”

“That’s consistent with what is now happening on a federal level in relation to passport arrangements in relation to transgender and intersex persons. I am confident that there will be an agreement to make changes … to more appropriately recognise the circumstances faced by people who are transgender or are considered to be intersex.

”I think it is time that we brought our legislation into line with other jurisdictions.”

In the Canadian province of Ontario in October, there was a chance in legislation to allow trans people to amend their gender on their birth certificates without first having to undergo gender confirmation surgery.

Ontario was the first province in Canada to scrap the requirement, a move that has been hailed as an important victory for the transgender community.

In 2011, similar changes were made to passport rules in Australia, and gender may now be recorded on passports as ‘M’, ‘F’ – or ‘X’.


Related topics: Australia, Australia, Australian, Australian Capital Territory, gender neutral, gender neutrality, Trans, Transgender

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