Opponents of Tasmania transgender law reform ‘fearmongering’

Transforming Tasmania transgender group
Photo: Transforming Tasmania

A group named the Tasmanian Coalition for Kids fighting the progression of legislation to benefit Tasmania’s transgender and gender diverse community has been accused of fearmongering ahead of this week’s Upper House debate on the laws.

The Tasmanian Coalition for Kids is made up of the Catholic Archdiocese of Hobart, the Catholic Women’s League, members of women’s network Women Speak and anti-same sex marriage campaigners, ABC News reported.

In a full-page ad in Hobart’s Mercury newspaper on Tuesday, published days before the Upper House debates the issue, the group claims the new laws could “compromise the integrity” of people’s identity, have “implications for children’s and women’s safety” and introduce difficulties getting a passport.

But transgender advocates have slammed the claims made by the group as “scare tactics and fearmongering”.

Tasmanian Families for Trans Kids spokesperson Candace Harrington has invited Smith to meet the parents of transgender children to help him understand the importance of the reforms before the parliament.

“An example of the ad’s many errors is that it says the proposed reforms will put women’s services at risk, but these services already have policies dealing with trans women,” Harrington said.

“The ad says the reforms will lead to identity fraud, but that is illegal and will remain so.

“The ad also says children will be able to amend their gender but fails to point out proposed amendments that will ensure people under 18 undergo counselling so they understand the legal impact of their decision.”

For passport applications, Harrington said the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade already has a procedure in place whereby an applicant without a gender marker on their birth certificate can provide a statutory declaration in their application.

She said claims made by the Australian Christian Lobby that teachers would be fined for referring to “boys” and “girls” were wrong as the state’s Anti-Discrimination Act protects anyone acting reasonably in such circumstances.

“The extent of misinformation about the proposed legal changes is deeply upsetting to families like mine and we welcome any opportunity to explain the true impact,” Harrington said.

“I believe that when Mr Smith and others hear our personal stories they will grasp why these reforms matter.

“I am a Catholic and I am concerned about the message being sent to parents with transgender children in Catholic schools, given Mr Smith’s group is backed by the Catholic Archdiocese.”

The legislation will face a vote in the independent-dominated Tasmanian Upper House before it becomes law.

What are the changes in the Tasmanian legislation?

The Tasmanian Liberal government’s original legislation was introduced to scrap the so-called “forced divorce” requirement affecting transgender people wanting to affirm their gender on their birth certificates.

The Tasmanian Greens and Labor added nine amendments to the bill all aimed at removing discrimination against transgender and intersex people from the Births, Deaths and Marriage Act. The amendments passed the Lower House last November.

The amendments include allowing parents to choose whether their child’s gender marker is recorded on their Tamsania birth certificate, though medical records would continue to record the child’s sex at birth.

“The parents of a child aged under 16 years whose birth is registered in the state may apply to the registrar, in a form approved by the registrar, for inclusion of gender information under Section 50 of this Act,” the legislation states.

The legislation also states a child under the age of 16 needs the support of a parent or guardian to apply to the registrar to include, change or delete gender markers on their birth certificates and a child under 16 who does not have the support of a parent or guardian would need the approval of a magistrate.

Under the amendments, the requirement for transgender people to have gender affirmation surgery in order to have their gender marker updated would be removed, a change that has also been made in South Australia and the ACT.

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