WA government promises reform after trans folk stuck in legal limbo

Western Australian Premier Mark Mcgowan government announces transgender reforms
WA Premier Mark McGowan. Image: YouTube

Western Australia Attorney-General John Quigley has announced legislation to benefit transgender and gender diverse people amid a bureaucratic backlog of gender recognition applications.

In WA, trans and gender diverse people must make an application to the state’s Gender Reassignment Board and be granted a Gender Recognition Certificate in order to be legally recognised.

But after the board’s former president resigned in September, the board plunged into an indefinite hiatus.

This led to a devastating backlog of a reported 26 applications for the certificates.

WA trans woman Bree was caught up in the situation after lodging her paperwork with the Board for her certificate.

Speaking to The West Australian, she said it was only when she personally contacted the department 10 weeks on for an update that she even discovered her application was stuck in limbo.

Bree said she transitioned a year ago but now the bureaucratic delay was stressful and impacting her mental health.

WA government moves to address applications in limbo

On Wednesday, the Western Australian government addressed the situation. Attorney-General John Quigley said he’d progress legislation to abolish the Gender Reassignment Board.

In the interim, the McGowan government appointed board member Grantham Kitto as new President to address pending and new applications from transgender people before the laws pass.

“The Board will prioritise existing applications,” a WA government spokesperson explained.

“Mr Kitto [is] committing to complete eight cases ready for assessment within the first week of his appointment.”

The WA government’s eventual legislation will replace the Board’s functions with “a modern and streamlined administrative process,” they said.

Once the reforms pass, applications will be processed by the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

Importantly, the legislation will scrap another archaic requirement. Currently, transgender people must undergo gender affirming-surgery in order to update sex markers on birth certificates.

“The McGowan Government is committed to LGBTIQA+ law reform and to improving the process of sex and gender recognition,” Attorney-General John Quigley said.

“These reforms will bring Western Australia in line with the processes available for birth certificates throughout most of Australia. [They] are consistent with the process available for Australian passports.”

‘Obsolete and archaic’ gender board causing transgender people distress

LGBTIQ+ advocates have long called for the removal of the Gender Reassignment Board. WA Labor first committed to abolishing it in 2017.

Earlier this month, PFLAG+ Perth said the “obsolete and archaic mechanism” was causing distress to the trans community.

TransFolk WA also described the need to apply to the board as “costly, redundant and harmful” for gender diverse people.

“The board is denying trans and gender diverse people access to services that are potentially life-changing,” the group warned.

“We know that trans and gender-diverse folks who have the ability to affirm their genders thrive.”

Earlier this month, the Western Australia government committing to outlawing conversion therapy.

The government vowed to consult with survivors on legislation after an inquiry exposed abuse and anti-gay “exorcisms” at a Christian-linked rehab facility.

In early December, the Queensland government also introduced similar draft legislation improving gender recognition and birth certificate laws to benefit trans Queenslanders, as well as same-sex parents.

For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

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