Queensland Attorney-General gives update on delayed trans reforms

Queensland attorney general Shannon Fentiman speaks at an event as government removes hiv co-payments
Queensland Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman. Photo: Facebook

Queensland Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman says a delayed bill to allow more transgender and gender diverse Queenslanders to update their birth certificates will finally be introduced before the end of the year.

The state government’s reforms to the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act were expected last year, after years of campaigning by advocates.

However in November, the Attorney-General (pictured) conceded they’d be delayed to 2022.

The proposed reforms include removing the current requirement forcing trans and gender diverse Queenslanders to undergo expensive and potentially inaccessible gender-affirming surgery before they can update sex markers on birth certificates.

Many trans people can’t access the surgeries for various financial, medical, faith or personal reasons. Nearly every other state and territory has already removed that requirement.

On Wednesday, Shannon Fentiman was questioned by Greens MP Michael Berkman about the legislation’s progress during an Estimates hearing.

Fentiman told the hearing she “hopes to introduce a bill” in the next few months, citing “some further feedback” from LGBTIQ+ stakeholders.

“There is now an exposure draft of the bill where we are directly consulting with stakeholders,” she said.

“I hope to be able to introduce a bill in the next few months, certainly before the end of the year.”

The Attorney-General said the government’s review of the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act was to ensure those services remain “relevant, responsive and contemporary.”

“That includes the consideration of arrangements which will allow trans and gender diverse people to have their gender identity accurately reflected in a birth certificate,” she said.

“I do acknowledge this is such an important issue to many Queenslanders. Consideration has been given to reforms that have happened in other states.

“The reforms as considered will bring Queensland into line with pretty much every other jurisdiction.”

Attorney-General says removing surgery requirement a ‘key reform’

Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman said this included allowing trans people to update their gender markers without undergoing gender-affirming surgery.

Without being able to update their birth certificate, many trans people are forced to “out” themselves in situations requiring the documents.

The discrepancy can also lead to misgendering, which negatively impacts mental health.

Questioned by Greens MP Michael Berkman, Shannon Fentiman said the government wants Queenslanders’ lived identity to match their legal identity.

“Queensland is one of the only jurisdictions in the country that does require people to undergo gender reassignment surgery before changing that on their birth certificates,” she said.

“Certainly that is one of the key reforms that we are continuing to consult on for this Bill.”

The Attorney-General also confirmed that she was consulting on how the legislation could better recognise non-binary Queenslanders.

“We’re doing a lot of consultation on that issue. We’re looking at the reforms in other jurisdictions, particularly Victoria and Tasmania,” she said.

“That’s the work we’re doing now on the draft bill. We are continuing to work with stakeholders on those issues.”

Greens urge Queensland government on transgender ID reforms

Greens MP Michael Berkman said the state government must deliver on the reforms to benefit trans Queenslanders.

“I’m concerned by how hard anti-trans groups are lobbying against these reforms,” he tweeted.

“The Attorney-General said the laws have already been delayed – by almost a year – for consultation.”

Transgender advocates have campaigned for the changes for almost a decade.

Queensland and New South Wales are the only two Australian jurisdictions that still have the surgery requirement.

Earlier this year, a Queensland parliamentary petition calling for the changes attracted more than 10,000 signatures.

The petition called for the removal of the requirement for surgery and the “annotation” added when the marker is changed.

The petition also called on the government limit the cost burden of updating the documents. Additionally, it called for the government to provide “Recognised Details Certificates” for Queenslanders who’ve transitioned but were born interstate.

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  1. Rachel Evans
    6 August 2022

    It would be great if the surgery would come under Medicare so that it would end the absolute cruelty of having to live with genitals you despise where the only reason is not being able to afford…
    Some trans people are desperate for the surgery but are unable to work because of severely limiting disabilities and other health issues.
    In this situation (which includes myself) it is impossible to get the money to complete transitioning so it should come under the public health system so that there is a better quality of life and far less
    depression and suicides ..

    • Trans Health Australia
      7 August 2022

      We totally agree with you Rachel, it seems our state and federal government lawmakers don’t seem to understand or even care about how the affects this has on the mental health of trans and gender diverse people who need to have gender affirming treatments and surgery.

      Gender affirming treatments and surgery changes our lives for the better where they are able to function with a higher degree of normality and and it saves the lives of trans and gender diverse people.

      The primary issue here is though is our health system is so fragmented with the federal government responsible for Medicare and the PBS and the state governments responsible for each state’s own public health systems.

      The state government in South Australia is working on a new model for gender affirming health care, so we believe it is time that we did the same thing in QLD and all other states around the nation.

  2. Trans Health Australia
    7 August 2022

    We wrote to the QLD State Government as well as every other state government almost 5 years ago and initiated consultations that were held with the state attorney general in 2018. https://qnews.com.au/calls-state-territory-premiers-to-scrap-forced-transgender-divorce-laws-trans-health-australia/

    This is long overdue and here we are now in 2022 and these reforms still haven’t gone through parliament. So what is the hold up?

    This leaves many trans and gender diverse Queenslanders still out in the cold and wondering when this will eventually happen and if the QLD ALP government really does care about our human rights.

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