Transgender people in Western Australia will be able to stay married to their partners when they affirm their gender on their birth certificate under legislation passed by the state government on Tuesday.
Under the previous law, trans people needed to be unmarried before their birth certificate can be updated, essentially requiring them to make a cruel choice between divorcing their spouse or having identification that doesn’t reflect who they are. The law is a leftover from when same-sex marriages were illegal.
Perth rock guitarist and trans woman Jaime Page (pictured, right) said like many trans people across the country affected by similar laws, watching the passage of marriage equality in 2017 was bittersweet.
“On the wonderful day that same-sex marriage become law, I watched with pride as the public gallery celebrated,” Page said.
“To me it was one of the most touching scenes ever witnessed in Parliament, as divisions disintegrated and love was all around, barring a few isolated sad faces.
“But there was one other slightly sad face – me. After everything we did to get there, I was feeling left out, I was not equal, and neither were many of my sisters and brothers.
“We had a new challenge on our hands. We celebrated for the lesbian, gay and bisexual community and hoped for an early resolution to this anomaly.”
The passage of the government’s amendment bill comes after a report by the Law Reform Commission of WA recommended a series of improvements to LGBTIQ rights in the state, including protections against discrimination based on gender identity and intersex status and removing sex classification from birth certificates.
Equality Australia’s Legal Advocacy Director Lee Carnie said the removal of the unmarried requirement in WA was a significant step in removing discrimination but there was more to be done.
“It’s fantastic to see the Western Australian Government taking steps to remove this discrimination against married trans and gender diverse people,” Carnie said.
“No one should be forced to choose between being legally recognised for who they are, or staying married to the person they love.
“We urge the Western Australian Government to carefully consider the Law Reform Commission’s report and introduce laws removing the remaining discrimination against trans and gender diverse people on birth certificates.
“For most people, updating your birth certificate is really simple. But for trans or gender diverse people, correcting the gender your birth certificate can be almost impossible.
“No one should be forced to live a lie or face daily problems when applying for a job, going to Centrelink or enrolling to study because of these outdated laws.”
Repeals of equivalent “forced divorce” laws for trans people have also occurred in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria in the last 12 months, following the passage of the federal same-sex marriage legislation.