Birth certificate reforms a step forward for transgender equality

New legislation introduced by the Victorian Government into parliament today will remove barriers to trans, gender diverse and intersex people accessing birth certificates that reflect their gender identity. 

Transgender Victoria’s Chair Brenda Appleton, said the reforms would improve the lives of trans and gender diverse people.

“This reform is extremely important for the trans and gender diverse community, most of whom are prevented from changing the most basic form of documentation to reflect their true identity,” said Ms Appleton.

Currently individuals are required to undergo surgery on their reproductive organs in order to change gender and must be unmarried. The proposed changes to the Births Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1996 (Vic) will allow individuals to change their legal sex through an administrative process without medical treatment and will provide for categories of gender outside male and female.

“Gender diverse people face problems every day accessing services and facilities that most Australians can use without thinking twice, because their identity documents do not reflect the gender they live as,” said Anna Brown, the HRLC’s Director of Advocacy.

“These reforms will ensure that no one is forced to undergo invasive, unnecessary and expensive surgeries in order to update their birth certificate. It’s also crucial that our laws reflect the reality of sex and gender diversity in modern Victoria,” added Ms Brown.

Under the proposed changes, a transgender person will not be required to divorce their spouse to change the gender recorded on their birth certificate.

“Removing the requirement that people be unmarried will mean that trans people are no longer forced to choose between their relationship and being true to who they are,” said Ms Appleton.

Parents will also be able to apply for their child’s gender to be changed on their birth certificate, with the child’s consent. The application must be accompanied by a supporting statement from a doctor or registered psychologist confirming the child has capacity to consent, and that the change is in the best interests of the child. Children over the age of 16 will be assumed to have capacity to consent.

“Transgender young people are extremely vulnerable and these reforms will help support their transition in school and other settings. The proposed birth certificate reforms acknowledge and respect a child’s gender identity while ensuring appropriate safeguards are in place,” said Ms Appleton.

For further comments are queries please contact:

Brenda Appleton, Chair, Transgender Victoria, 0404 480 416

Anna Brown, Director of Advocacy, Human Rights Law Centre, 0422 235 522