NSW delivers marriage equality for trans people

NSW delivers marriage equality for trans people

Transgender people in New South Wales will now be able to stay married to the person they love when they change the gender on their birth certificate, with the Berejiklian Government passing new laws today.

The reform follows the passage of marriage equality late last year, and is part of steps to ensure that trans and gender diverse people are not forced to choose between divorcing the person they love and having identification that doesn’t reflect who they are. Currently people are required to be unmarried if they wanted to change their gender.

Kate Toyer, a trans woman, said she and her family were looking forward to the reform becoming a reality.

“I am a trans woman. I am a woman practically, socially, and legally in everything except one important document. My birth certificate still assigns me as male. To change this, I would have to get divorced from the woman with whom I have three beautiful children. I would have to get divorced from the woman I love more than anything else in this world.”

Kate has been married to her wife for over 21 years but has been unable to change her gender on her birth certificate.

“This reform is an acknowledgment of the love I have for my wife and family. Now I don’t have to choose between having true legal documents or having a beautiful wife and family,” said Kate.

Kirsti Miller, a trans woman who was forced to divorce to change her birth certificate in 2006 said she was pleased that no one else would have to go through her experience.

“I was forced to divorce my childhood sweetheart so my birth certificate could reflect my true gender. I should never have had to make that choice. It was devastating and had a long lasting impact on our lives. The transgender community are already vulnerable in society, it’s welcome that on this issue at least we will now be treated with respect.”

Anna Brown, Director of Legal Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre and Co-Chair of the Equality Campaign, welcomed the reforms but said there was more to do.

"The community has shown their support for marriage equality, it’s time our laws respected marriage equality for all. All governments must reform outdated birth certificate laws so trans and gender diverse people can live with dignity," said Ms Brown.

"This is a step in the right direction but trans people in NSW are still required to undergo invasive surgery before they can change their legal sex. Much more reform is needed to bring birth certificate laws in NSW and many other states into line with best practice worldwide," said Ms Brown.

In response to these concerns, while giving his speech on the NSW Bill, Alex Greenwich MP has committed to working with members of the cross-bench for broader reform to address the remaining barriers for trans and gender diverse people to access birth certificates that reflect who they are.

A bill to remove the unmarried requirement from Victorian birth certificate laws recently passed the Victorian parliament, a similar bill is currently before the Queensland parliament, and public inquiries into broader changes to birth certificate laws are underway in Queensland and Western Australia. South Australia and the ACT had already updated their laws before the changes to the Marriage Act in 2017.

Transgender and gender diverse advocates across the country together with allies will continue to push for change.

For interviews or further information please call:

Michelle Bennett, Director of Communications, Human Rights Law Centre, 0419 100 519

(Photo: Kate Toyer pictured with her family in NSW)