A bill to allow transgender and gender diverse Victorians to change the sex marker on their birth certificate without surgery has passed its first vote.
Trans rights advocates cheered the passage of the amendment to the state’s Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act in the state parliament’s lower house on Thursday.
Equality minister Martin Foley said the legislation will allow trans and gender diverse people to have “their true self reflected” on their birth certificate.
YGender spokesperson Kochava Lillit said birth certificate reform is a “vital step” for transgender rights.
“Trans activists have been working hard to make birth certificates more trans-inclusive. And now we need everyone to help make sure that the upper house passes this bill too,” they said.
Sage Akouri from Equality Australia said their human right to identity documents that reflect who they are should never have been debated in Parliament.
“Changing my sex on my birth certificate gives me a sense of safety that I’ve never had before,” they said.
Bill will go to its second vote next week
Equality Australia’s Anna Brown welcomed the bill’s passage, 56 votes to 27.
“A birth certificate is the first document a person has. It says who you are, and where you belong,” she said.
“Being forced to use ID that doesn’t match your identity creates daily problems when applying for a job, going to Centrelink or enrolling to study.”
The bill now also needs to pass the legislative council when it’s voted on next week. It has the support of some crossbenchers.
“We’ll be contacting [upper house] MPs to let them know how important this reform is,” Brown said.
I recently won the parliament prize 2019! My video entry (below) regards birth certificate reform. The issue is being discussed over the next week in VIC parliament. I urge you discuss this with your MP and persuade them to support the bill. pic.twitter.com/AewGhk26ie
— Isabelle Langley (@IsabelleLangl17) August 10, 2019
How will the Victorian bill help transgender people?
Currently, a transgender person born in Victoria can only change the sex marker on their birth certificate if they have undergone “sexual reassignment surgery” and can provide statutory declarations from two medical practitioners verifying this.
But such surgeries are out of reach of many transgender people for various financial, medical, faith or personal reasons. The law also means that children under 18 generally can’t change their legal sex markers.
The Bill will remove these barriers for trans and gender diverse people. Applicants must provide a supporting statement from an adult who has known them for at least 12 months.
For children under 18, parents can apply on their child’s behalf. They must provide a statutory declaration, and a supporting statement by a “prescribed person” (e.g. a doctor, psychologist or other person prescribed by regulations) confirming that the application is in the child’s best interests.
Where parents disagree, the dispute will be resolved by a Magistrate’s assessment of what is in the child’s best interests.
The Bill will also allow people to self-nominate the legal sex on their birth certificate, including a range of gender diverse and non-binary descriptors of their choice.
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