ACT News

Jessica joyful about getting her new birth certificate

Canberran Jessica Walsh has reached a milestone day - the day when she can hand back a birth certificate that for her tells a lie.

"That little "M" is a bit annoying," Ms Walsh said with some understatement, referring to the section on her birth certificate that records her as a male. "I'm female and having my birth certificate saying I'm male is basically just false information."

Monday, April 28: new ACT laws take effect to allow people to change the sex on their birth certificate without the need for sexual reassignment surgery. All that is required is for a doctor or psychologist to certify a person has received ''appropriate clinical treatment'', which is deliberately not defined.

Ms Walsh, 20, will be at the door of the Office of Regulatory Services in Fyshwick first thing, to hand over her old birth certificate and a letter from her doctor, and to apply for a new birth certificate. It will be an "amazing" day in her journey from life as a man to life as a woman, a journey that began relatively recently.

Ms Walsh was born in Canberra, one of three children, and grew up as a boy, but said over the years there were "little signs that I should have picked up on".

She said she accepted the reality finally in early 2012, when she began her shift to living as a female, and since then she had not once had doubts.

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She began taking hormones late in 2012 and changed the name on her birth certificate a year ago, the same time she "went full-time" presenting as female.

A student about to start a psychology degree, she also works at Target and said her workplace had accepted her transition. "There were definitely some people that were a little bit iffy about it … but there were a lot of friends at work that were really supportive and said 'yeah, go for it, if that's you, don't let anyone stop you'."

Her family has supported her and special backing came from her grandmother, in her 80s, who told her, ''If I don't accept you for who you are and love you I will just lose you."

Ms Walsh will be one of at least two Canberrans applying on Monday for a new birth certificate. Other transgender and intersex people in the territory would like to do the same, but were born interstate.

For many people, the need for sexual reassignment surgery had been a major barrier to changing their birth certificates under the old legislation.

Ms Walsh said when she could afford it, surgery would be her final milestone.

In the meantime, her new birth certificate would be framed, alongside the letter from her psychologist to her endocrinologist, supporting the start of hormone treatment.

"I will be happy in myself, because I can fully identify as female both physically and mentally without having to lie, in a sense, that I was male," she said. "It doesn't affect many people, but for the few, it affects them enormously."

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