Tasmanian Push To Remove Gender Markers From Birth Certificates


Transforming Tasmania

Tasmanian LGBTIQ advocates have welcomed moves in the state to remove gender markers from birth certificates.

Last week, the Tasmanian Liberal Government tabled amendments to legislation removing the need for transgender people to divorce their partners if they want to change their gender marker on their birth certificates. The reform is required by federal law after the passage of marriage equality.

But the Tasmanian Greens, with the support of the Labor party, have put forward amendments to go further and remove sex markers from children’s birth certificates altogether.

The proposed amendments would require sex to be removed from a birth certificate, unless ordered by a magistrate or required under the laws of another state or the Commonwealth, ABC News reported.

Transforming Tasmania spokeswoman Martine Delaney told the ABC having the marker on their birth certificate posed problems for transgender people.

“This morning I received a copy of a birth certificate from the mother of a transgender girl, and she’s a teenager applying for casual work,” she said.

“Her birth certificate outs her as being born male and having a former male name.

“It serves no purpose and it simply causes problems.”

Delaney said it was an opportunity for Tasmania to lead the country on the issue and was not a radical change.

“It is not doing away with gender. That information would still be recorded by the registrar and medical records in the hospital,” she said.

“It just simply wouldn’t be displayed on the birth certificate.

“Tasmanian birth certificates used to include information about race but that was removed because it was irrelevant for most people and allowed discrimination against some.”

But the Tasmanian Government has said it does not support the proposed amendments.

“No other state or territory in Australia has taken the step proposed of removing gender from birth certificates,” Attorney-General Elise Archer said.

“For Tasmania to do so, in the absence of any proper consideration of the reform, exposes the state to a range of potentially serious unintended consequences.”

Ms Archer said the Greens and Labor amendments would go to the Tasmania Law Reform Institute (TLRI) for consideration.

“An investigation by the TLRI will give Tasmanians the opportunity to have their say on how their government manages issues of sex and gender, and the TLRI is best placed to properly consider the impact on our laws,” she said.

But Martine Delaney said a statewide inquiry into these issues in 2016 by the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commission had showed widespread support for reform.

“Since then Transforming Tasmania has encouraged public debate on the reforms we want, and has met regularly with the State Government to discuss these reforms and put forward our suggested amendments,” Delaney said.

“For the Government to claim that this reform has been sprung on Tasmania and there is need for further consultation is misleading and just an excuse for unnecessary delay.”

‘Eroding the rights of women’

The changes have been opposed by the Australian Christian Lobby and groups such as Women Speak Tasmania, who are concerned about what the change would mean for the rights of women.

“Birth certificates are historical records that serve a number of demographic functions and inform both government policy and legislation on a wide range of areas,” spokesperson Bronwyn Williams said.

Williams said laws where “biological males can be declared legally female” were “eroding the rights of women and girls to female-only spaces and services.”

“If male-bodied people are permitted to be legally recognised as female on the basis of self-identification alone, as proposed by groups like Transforming Tasmania, women’s sex-based rights will be a thing of the past.”

Surgery requirement ‘cruel and unnecessary’

Labor and the Greens are also backing changes removing the need for transgender Tasmanians to have gender reassignment surgery before updating their gender marker on official documents.

Tasmanian Greens leader Cassy O’Connor, who has a 20-year-old trans son named Jasper, said the change would end unnecessary discrimination.

“The flow-on effects of being able to have your birth certificate either gender neutral or changed to your correct gender are profoundly life-changing,” she said.

“At the moment in Tasmania, if Jasper wants to have his birth certificate changed he will need to have a hysterectomy, and that is cruel and unnecessary.”

The Tasmanian amendments come amid discussions of similar changes to birth certificates in other states and territories, including Western Australia and Queensland.

In the US, the Trump administration is facing intense backlash after plans were revealed to narrow the legal definition of gender as male or female, defined by biological sex and unchangeable, essentially legally erasing trans and intersex people.