ACT reforms will make big difference to gender diverse people

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr's government passes gender laws
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr. Image: Supplied.

LGBTIQ+ groups have applauded reforms in the ACT that remove “cruel and unnecessary” barriers to gender recognition in the territory.

The ACT parliament passed the reforms by 12 votes to 5 last week. The new laws provide a greater choice of gender descriptors on birth certificates.

Under the reforms, a person can also update their gender marker without the need for clinical treatment from a doctor or psychologist.

The reforms also lowered the application age from 16 to 14, making it easier for trans and gender-diverse children to be recognised for who they are.

This change was opposed by the Liberals in the ACT Parliament. Greens MP Laura Nuttall also put forward amendments the ACT Labor Government agreed to.

Human Rights Minister Tara Cheyne said the reforms are about supporting a person’s human right to express who they are.

“This has been a debate and the amendments today, all of them have been about a person’s fundamental human rights, their identity and being able to express who they are and to have administrative documents also support this,” she said.

‘Greater autonomy over their ID’

Vik Fraser, director of Canberra-based organisation A Gender Agenda, said the changes will have a positive impact in the ACT.

“These reforms have the potential to enhance the wellbeing of many members of the trans, gender diverse and also intersex communities,” Vik said.

“They will go a long way to supporting our young people as they negotiate a number of different systems that hinge on how their legal registration documents have been recorded.

“Enabling legal affirmation of a person’s identity in this way is protective of our community. [It] removes an unnecessary burden from individuals and families.”

Equality Australia’s Ymania Brown, who is a transwoman, explained the changes give people “greater autonomy over their ID”.

The changes will mean gender-diverse people will no longer struggle with mismatching documents when applying for schools or accessing healthcare.

“These reforms will ensure their lived reality matches their legal identity,” she said.

“It gives them the respect and dignity that comes with being recognised as their true selves.”

The ACT’s laws match the direction of other states like Tasmania and Queensland as well as Victoria, Ymania said.

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Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

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