Victorian reforms to deliver marriage equality for trans people 

Victorian reforms to deliver marriage equality for trans people 

Transgender Victorians may soon be able to stay married to the person they love when they change their birth certificate to reflect who they are.

The Andrews Government is set to eliminate an anomaly in Victoria’s birth certificate laws that requires anyone wishing to change their gender to be unmarried.

Transgender Victoria's Chair Brenda Appleton said, "We welcome this important reform that – if passed – will mean that trans and gender diverse Victorians will no longer have to make an impossible choice between staying married to the person they love and being legally recognised as their true gender."

This step follows the passage of marriage equality late last year, and in line with a broader trend of governments moving to ensure transgender people can access identification that reflects who they are.

"This is a welcome change that means trans and gender diverse people will be free to live as their true selves, while remaining committed to the person they fell in love with," said Anna Brown, Director of Legal Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre.

"It isn’t fair that some trans and gender diverse people are still waiting for full marriage equality. The community has shown their support for marriage equality, it’s time our laws did as well. All governments must reform our outdated birth certificate laws so trans and gender diverse people can live with dignity."

Currently in Victoria, people can only change the gender on their birth certificate if they’ve had surgery on their reproductive organs and are unmarried. Wholesale changes similar to those included in the failed 2016 bill are required to remove these barriers.

"We are disappointed that other unnecessary legal barriers remain for trans and gender diverse people changing the gender marker on their birth certificates, including surgery, age restrictions, and our laws should have more options for non-binary and gender diverse people," added Ms Appleton. 

The Victorian Government attempted to pass reforms that would have removed other barriers to people accessing birth certificates in their true gender in 2016, but the bill failed to pass by one vote. This means that Victorian Government is in a different situation to other states and territories as standing orders of the parliament prevent the reintroduction of a substantially similar bill.

Victoria’s move comes after similar reforms were introduced in Queensland earlier this month, and follows South Australia and the ACT, which reformed their birth certificate laws before marriage equality was passed.

Victorian Senator Janet Rice is married to Penny, who is currently prevented from changing her birth certificate to reflect her female gender. Victorian Senator Janet Rice said, "I’m so pleased that the Victorian government has introduced this legislation. Forcing trans people to divorce their partner before they can change their birth certificates is discriminatory."

"I urge other states to remove this discrimination so that we can have full marriage equality."

"For my wife Penny and me, this means Penny will be able to affirm her gender on her birth certificate and we can stay married for many years to come."

For interviews or further information please call:

Alycia Gawthorne, Communications Officer, Human Rights Law Centre, 0425 016 380

Photo: Climate change expert Penny Whetton and her wife Senator Janet Rice