Today the Queensland Government introduced a bill that will allow people to stay married to the person they love when they change the gender marker on their birth certificate, removing an unnecessary and unfair hurdle preventing trans people from living their true lives.
Brisbane’s Roz Dickson found the strength to transition at age 47. She stayed married to her wife Kathy. If Roz was to change the gender on her birth certificate they would be forced to divorce. Roz and Kathy have been together for 28 years and have two children.
"I wanted to stay married for our children. When I transitioned to live as a woman I became happier in myself, a more fulfilled and content person to live with and a better parent to our young children. We decided it was best to remain married through my transition keeping our family together. This law means I could finally be able to change my birth certificate to reflect who I am," said Ms Dickson.
The change follows the passage of marriage equality late last year, and are part of steps to ensure that transgender people are not forced to choose between divorcing the person they love and having identification that doesn’t reflect who they are.
Pete Black, a local marriage equality advocate from the Equality Campaign, said this change will result in marriage equality becoming a reality for all Queenslanders.
"The historic introduction of marriage equality last year was bittersweet for many members of the LGBTI community, especially within the transgender community. Not only were they unfairly targeted by the No campaign, the passage of the legislation through the Federal Parliament still didn't provide marriage equality for some within in the transgender community, as they were still forced to choose between changing their sex on official documents and their marriage," said Mr Black.
Matilda Alexander, President of the LGBTI Legal Service, said the change would bring enormous relief to the trans community.
"The LGBTI Legal Service has provided advice to many transgender clients who were caught in this bizarre legal technicality. People are faced with an impossible choice between embracing their true gender identity by divorcing their supportive partner or continuing to live under the oppression of an official gender that does not match their identity," said Ms Alexander.
Queensland will be the first state or territory to introduce this change after marriage equality, with LGBTI advocates campaigning for similar changes in New South Wales, the Northern Territory, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia, as well as removing other outdated and unfair barriers to accessing birth certificates. South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory had already reformed their birth certificate laws to remove these barriers before marriage equality was passed.
Anna Brown, Director of Legal Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre, welcomed the change that would ensure equality for transgender Queenslanders and their families, but called for further reform to ensure that trans, gender diverse and intersex people can live with dignity.
"Our communities, families, doctors and schools already support marriage equality, and it’s time our laws did as well. This is a small but significant change that will mean transgender people can be free to be who they are, while maintaining their commitment to the person they fell in love with," said Ms Brown.
Currently people can only change the gender on their birth certificate if they have had surgery on their reproductive organs, and the available gender descriptors only include male and female options rather than terms such as non-binary or male/female.
"Transgender people face problems every day accessing services and facilities most Australians use without thinking twice, because their identity documents do not match their gender. We need a complete overhaul of these outdated laws to ensure, for example, that trans people do not have to undergo invasive and unnecessary surgeries simply to be recognised as the gender they live as," said Ms Brown.
For interviews or further information please call:
Michelle Bennett, Director of Communications, Human Rights Law Centre, 0419 100 519