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Transgender people will be able to alter birth certificates

ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell.

ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell. Photo: Rohan Thomson

Transgender people in Canberra are set for a landmark win this week when the ACT government passes laws allowing them to change the sex on their birth certificate.

To date, a birth certificate can only be changed where someone has had sexual reassignment surgery.

But the new laws will allow someone to identify as male, female or ''X'', without surgery.

All they need is for a doctor or psychologist to certify they have received ''appropriate clinical treatment'' - which is deliberately not defined, leaving it to the doctor or psychologist.

The legislation is set to be debated and passed on Thursday.

The Liberals have yet to decide how they will vote, their leader Jeremy Hanson saying a decision will be up to the party room on Monday.

He had met the lobby group A Gender Agenda and said his eyes had been opened to the complexity and sensitivities of the issue.

Attorney-General Simon Corbell said people who had changed their sex faced embarrassment and an invasion of privacy in day-to-day situations when their birth certificate recorded a different sex.

''Transactions that most of us take for granted every day can become humiliating, embarrassing or simply impossible because of the conflict that currently exists between a person's outwards gender identification and how that is legally recorded on their birth certificate,'' he said.

The legislation will also extend the time limit for births to be registered from 60 days to six months.

This gives parents time to decide how to register the sex of their child in cases when the baby is not clearly male or female.

The new law will allow parents to have their child's birth certificate changed if they believe it in the best interests of the child and when the child has received ''appropriate clinical treatment'' - again, without the need for sexual reassignment surgery.

A new category on birth certificates brings ACT birth certificates into line with Australian passports, allowing people to opt for ''X'', instead of either male or female on their birth certificate - a category for people with indeterminate, intersex or unspecified sex.

''Instead of requiring black and white distinctions that categorise rather than empathise, that allow for easy administration but not true inclusion, the ACT recognises sexual diversity,'' Mr Corbell said.

And it changes the rules about when an original birth certificate - before the change of sex - can be issued.

A parent (or person with parental responsibility) for the person, an executor of someone's estate, or a child of the person will be able to request an original birth certificate.

But spouses or former spouses (and partners) will no longer be able to make the request.

After the legislation was introduced last year the Assembly's standing committee on justice and community safety questioned whether any form of clinical evidence should be necessary, suggesting that self-identification alone could be sufficient.

It questioned whether there was sufficient protection for children whose parents changed their birth certificate, and it asked the government to consider the case of children who want to change their birth certificates without the support of their parents.

None of those issues, though, have been incorporated in the legislation.


  • What a load of rubbish.
    Next we will building transger prisons. So his (girl) get put in a male prison, her(boy) gets put in womens prisons. So how many more need to get changed to support this minority.

    Date and time
    March 17, 2014, 8:52AM
    • That's fantastic. Just imagine what's in store for Canberra when we get
      another 8 MLAs ........... the mind boggles.

      Date and time
      March 17, 2014, 12:43PM
      • This is rubbish. You are male or female. Sick of this government pushing a radical social agenda.

        Date and time
        March 17, 2014, 2:38PM
        • From the article:

          "This gives parents time to decide how to register the sex of their child in cases when the baby is not clearly male or female"

          Sick of people commenting on issues they know nothing about, even *after* they've read the article.

          Donna Joy
          Date and time
          March 17, 2014, 3:50PM
        • Jenny - please look up the word "Intersex".

          Or have a look at Science 1974 Dec 27; 186 (4170): 1213-5
          In an isolated village of the southwestern Dominican Republic, 2% of the live births were in the 1970's, guevedoces ...These children appeared to be girls at birth, but at puberty these 'girls' sprout muscles, testes, and a penis. For the rest of their lives they are men in nearly all respects. Their underlying pathology was found to be a deficiency of the enzyme, 5-alpha Reductase.

          That's 5ARD. It's really common in some parts of the world, but relatively rare in Australia. Cases of 5ARD, 17BHSD, 3BHSD etc with similar effects do happen here though, and some even live in Canberra.

          That's just one example. There are many similar situations where current laws just don't fit.

          People like myself get a lot of crap (to put it bluntly) from the ignorant and bigoted, who were taught the simplified child's version of biology, and make fatuously stupid remarks, and worse, fatuously stupid legislation, based on that. We can't do much about the remarks, but we can educate and inform politicians.

          This law corrects some past mistakes based on well-meaning ignorance.

          Feel free to continue believing the simple version of biology, or even that the Earth is flat, if that's what your religion requires. Legislators don't have that luxury, they must deal with reality.

          Zoe Brain
          Date and time
          March 17, 2014, 6:33PM
      • The Peoples Socialist Republic of the ACT never fails to amaze me with its ability to waste its time on the non essential. Can you actually remember the last time you had to produce a birth certificate for any reason at all?

        Date and time
        March 17, 2014, 5:24PM
        • Yes, I can. Getting a passport took a 20 month legal fight, as my anatomy and Medicare data was F, but my Birth Certificate M.

          Despite letters from my PhD supervisor stating it was necessary that I travel overseas to attend conferences I was due to give presentations to, I wasn't permitted to travel outside Australia.

          These laws have real effects on actual people. Frankly, we have enough difficulties with the medical problems without legal problems as well. Ignorant and misinformed commentary by those who see it as some kind of Leftist "People's Socialist Republic" issue don't help either.

          I don't even know how they can see things this way. Knee-jerk reaction to change? Religious belief? What on Earth gives them the idea this medical issue has anything to do with political ideology?

          Zoe Brain
          Date and time
          March 18, 2014, 11:46AM
      • Jenny.. how terribly misinformed you are. There are many types of intersex conditions that are neither male nor female and it is very common. This is scientifically and medically well established. I encourage you to read up on this.. eg. Klinefelters syndrome, xxy, xxxy, xxxxy, mosaic and many others.. Maybe have a read of this link.. the idea of a binary gender (ie: just male and female) is just not reality.

        Date and time
        March 17, 2014, 8:57PM
        • .I am transgender and in no way do I support this happening. It makes the birth certificate into a joke and last time I checked woman dont have penises and men dont have vaginas. If a transgender person has had full reassignment surgery thats different and they should have a new birth certificate and If a transgender person thinks its all about a piece of paper then I suggest you need a lot more therapy because a piece of paper doesnt mean anything to anyone else. If it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck its a duck..

          Vickie Small
          Gold Coast
          Date and time
          March 18, 2014, 12:16AM
          • Vickie, all you are showing is your ignorance of other's transitions. Not everyone is physically able to have surgery so how do you propose they are recognised as their correct gender?
            Yes it is a piece of paper. However that piece of paper is used to support so many day to day transactions and certainly does mean a hell of a lot to other people that you may need to interact with. Try getting married without a correct birth certificate for instance!

            Date and time
            March 18, 2014, 11:40AM
        Comments are now closed

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