Victorian government bill hopes to remove barriers for trans people

Victorian Bill To Remove Barriers For Trans People

The Victorian Labor government will today introduce a bill that would remove barriers for trans people.This will allow trans, intersex and non-binary people to choose a sex other than male or female on their birth certificate.

The existing law, which requires those born in Victoria to have sterilising surgery before changing the sex marker on their birth certificate, has been called “cruel and unfair”, The Age reported.

If the bill passes, it will bring Victoria into line with Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory, which have all scrapped the requirement for surgery.

General Jill Hennessy and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews
General Jill Hennessy and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews 

The Andrews Government argues against compelling trans people to undergo surgery because of the expense.

Additionally, not all trans people desire surgery.

“The current surgery requirement sends a painful and false message that there is something wrong with being trans, gender diverse or intersex that needs to be ‘fixed’,” said Attorney-General Jill Hennessy.

“That’s why we’re removing this cruel and unfair barrier.”

Minister for Equality Martin Foley defended the necessary changes in the bill for gender diverse Victorians and their mental health.

“This bill is about giving trans and gender diverse Victorians a basic right—a birth certificate which reflects who they truly are,” he said.

New laws will enable young people to change the sex on their birth certificate in limited circumstances.

Those include parental support and a statement from a doctor or psychologist stating that the decision is in the child’s best interests.

The opposition has attacked the bill, saying it “went too far and was driven by ideology”.

The Victorian government previously tried to pass a similar bill in 2016, but failed narrowly.

Birth certificates and transition

As well as correctly reflecting gender, updated birth certificates remain important for trans people’s privacy.

A certificate that shows the wrong sex can instantly ‘out’ someone as trans.

Sally Goldner from Transgender Victoria said:

“Out of date birth certificates force many trans people to out themselves when applying for work.”

She added that non-binary people need the ability to choose a certificate that correctly reflects their gender.

“The reality is that half of the transgender community do not identify as male or female, so having these improvements will be vital to a fairer system,” Goldner said.

Tasmania and the Northern Territory are the most recent Australian jurisdictions to remove the requirement for trans people to have surgery before correcting their birth certificates.

The Tasmanian Labor party originally called for the removal of sex markers from birth certificates. Later, however, they moved to a position of making them optional.

Intersex identities

The option to remove sex from birth certificates, or allow a non-binary gender option, is important for the intersex community.

Almost 2 per cent of the population have an intersex variation.

Their genetics or bodies are not entirely typically ‘male’ or ‘female’.

The birth certificate of many intersex people do not accurately reflect their identities.

The bill introduced today will see intersex people allowed an appropriate sex marker on their birth certificates.

Unnecessary so-called ‘normalising’ surgeries are still carried out on intersex babies and children.

Advocates slammed the World Health Organization for continuing to pathologise intersex variations.


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