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ACT's gender identity bill considered to be too soft on human rights

Peter Hyndal says people should not require clinical proof to change their gender on their birth certificate.

Peter Hyndal says people should not require clinical proof to change their gender on their birth certificate. Photo: Melissa Adams

The ACT government could amend its landmark proposal to recognise transgender and intersex people in identity documents because of concerns the bill does not go far enough to advance human rights.

A Legislative Assembly committee has warned that there is a ''significant rights issue'' in the bill, which removes the requirement for surgery for people who want to change their gender on their birth certificate.

The proposal, introduced late last year, substitutes the requirement for surgery with a new requirement for proof of appropriate clinical treatment from a professional, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist.

The government is considering a report from the assembly's standing committee on justice and community safety that questions whether any form of clinical evidence should be necessary.

''The committee raises no issue concerning the removal of the requirement that an applicant has undergone sexual reassignment surgery, but there is a significant rights issue arising from what is proposed as a substitute,'' the report says.

The report notes that ''there was majority support within the sex and gender-diverse communities in the ACT for self-identification alone to be a sufficient condition''.

The committee also raised concerns that the bill might not offer sufficient protection to children whose parents were acting on their behalf. The report asks whether changes to identity records should only be permitted for children above a certain age and with the child's consent.

The committee also called on the government to consider whether there should be a legal process available for children who want to change their gender on their birth certificate but who do not have the support of either one or both of their parents.

Advocacy groups are in talks with the government about a range of issues in the bill, which the assembly was originally expected to debate in the first sitting for 2014 this week.

Peter Hyndal, spokesman for A Gender Agenda, said the group agreed clinical proof should not be required for people who wanted to change their gender on their birth certificate.

''Our view is, and always has been, that it should be a self-declaration and any additional evidence shouldn't be necessary,'' he said. ''The only person who can know what the appropriate identity is is the person themselves.''

Mr Hyndal said the group was worried there was ''no capacity and process'' for children who ''are clearly identifying as the opposite gender'' but whose parents opposed changing their birth certificate.

Mr Hyndal said the laws also posed a problem for people who lived in the ACT but were born in another state.

Attorney-General Simon Corbell called on other jurisdictions to follow the ACT's lead and pursue similar laws when he introduced the bill in December.

Mr Corbell has referred to the bill as the ''final piece'' of the ACT government's reforms for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in Canberra.

A spokesman for Mr Corbell said the government was considering the committee's report.

9 comments

  • What a load of rubbish. You are born male or female.
    Here we go again catering to a minority group, just to appease people that are different.
    I do not care if you are GLTI, do use this an excuse, we are equal.
    What an idividaul does is their business, we do not need laws for the minority, just because people do not like their lifestyle.

    Commenter
    Hardarse
    Date and time
    February 24, 2014, 8:17AM
    • Absolutely correct Hardarse, it is simply an adendum to Mr Barrs personal agenda.

      Commenter
      NITRO GANGSTER
      Date and time
      February 24, 2014, 9:41AM
    • Hardarse, it's quite lucky for you that you were not born with this condition.

      Maybe you should do some research - those with gender identity disorders have typically felt they were born in the wrong body since very early in life, often as far back as they can remember. They also have an appalling high rate of suicide.

      A bit of empathy goes a long way.

      Commenter
      kg2095
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      February 24, 2014, 9:41AM
    • I take your point kg2095 but I have heard of parents wanting a boy or girl so badly and getting the opposite that they have brain washed, educated the child "not sure which word to use" into believing they want same.

      Commenter
      NITRO GANGSTER
      Date and time
      February 24, 2014, 10:12AM
    • How lucky you are to be born inside that secure little gender dichotomy you refer to. So what you're saying is that your own reality defines the reality for everyone else, like you're some Grand Arbiter of the Universe? Too bad for the person who was born with an intersex condition - how do they fit in your cosy little paradigm? What of transgender people? As a supposedly 'straight' cisgender person, imagine how you would feel if you woke up tomorrow in the body of someone of the opposite sex. What would YOU do to rectify the situation? Do you seriously think a transsexual chooses his/her life as a lifestyle choice - like becoming an Elvis impersonator or a hip hop artist? Just because you've likely had a life free from gender dilemmas, it doesn't make it so for everyone.

      Honestly, if you're so 'accepting' of LGBTI people, then why is that you are so vociferous in your comments that this proposed bill just panders to a minority? I mean,we're all minorities in one way or another. And what's wrong with filling a gap to protect the interests of one of those minorities anyway - particularly when it has no impact on YOUR life? All this bill proposes is to streamline the identity paperwork and administrative procedures for people outside whose gender is a little more fluid than normal. ID can be a huge problem for trans/intersex people and this only seeks to resolve that.

      So before you go ahead and post monumentally stupid and ill-conceived comments, I suggest you do something like pick up a book on the subject, or go out into the real world and experience life. You just might learn something.

      Commenter
      Space Lola
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      February 24, 2014, 10:27AM
  • I was born a boy, the typical muscular male full of hormones and energy. Now I've just returned from Afghanistan and possibly from the trauma experienced, I would like to become a lady...a classy, graceful, peaceful lady; I want to smell the flowers, have a tea with the girls, have a manicure, use body lotion, take things nice & easy and many other things... Everyone's support is massively appreciated and my family's support has been great. I am grateful and thankful of everything I have, I am thankful of the traumas experienced...made me and turned me into a real...Lady.

    Commenter
    Mack Bullet (aka Lady Grace)
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    February 24, 2014, 10:13AM
    • I trust you've seen a competent gender therapist. It''s fairly easy to differentiate psychosis and severe PTSD from Gender Dysphoria. Common trolling though is another matter.

      Commenter
      Zoe Brain
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      February 24, 2014, 12:06PM
  • So let me see if I have got it straight - lets say a male, can deem himself to be female, then legitimately enter a public toilet for females. Doesn't this provide an ideal path for paedophiles and/or other sorts of sex offenders?

    PLEASE NOTE - this comment should not be taken as any sort of suggestion that transgender and intersex people are paedophiles or in any way sex offenders. It is simply raising a concern that these changes could be abused by those who are.

    Commenter
    John
    Location
    Canberra
    Date and time
    February 24, 2014, 10:19AM
    • This is Alice in Wonderland, right?

      Youre either male or female. You cant be half way in between.Doesnt work. Not possible.

      If youre male/female & want to be female/male, get the surgery.

      Stop messing with peoples heads, especially children.

      Then and only then once all the mechanical stuff is done - THEN change things around.

      This whole disproportional pandering to minority group nonsense just has to stop.

      No wonder sensible & thinking people want to get of ACT Labor - what a mess!

      Commenter
      Realist
      Date and time
      February 24, 2014, 11:41AM
      Comments are now closed
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