On 10 April 2019, Tasmania passed the Marriage Amendment Bill to make gender optional on birth certificates, making Tasmania the first Australian jurisdiction to have done so.
The amended legislation removes the requirement for transgender people to have surgery in order to have their gender recognised. It also allows people aged 16 years and above to apply to change their registered gender without the consent of their parents and protects the rights of an individual to express their gender without discrimination.
The amendments to the legislation will be very meaningful to the transgender community. Advocates for the reform have celebrated the change stating that it will save lives by reducing the psychological stress experienced by those in the transgender community and remove discrimination against the transgender community.
In Victoria, those seeking to change the gender specified on their birth certificate are able to do so through the Department of Births Deaths and Marriages but only if they have undergone sex affirmation surgery. The law defines this as “a surgical procedure involving the alteration of a person’s reproductive organs carried out for the purpose of assisting the person to be considered to be a member of the opposite sex”. The legislation is largely the same in Queensland and New South Wales.
In South Australia, the legislation states that people can change the gender recorded on their birth certificate if they can show that they’ve had a clinical treatment provided by an Australian medical practitioner or psychologist.
The reform will have a very positive impact on transgender and gender diverse people. It would be great to see the amendments rolled out in all of the Australian states to promote equality and acceptance of gender diverse people in our community.