The Victorian Legislative Council (upper house) last night passed an amendment to the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1996 (Vic) removing barriers for trans and gender diverse people changing the legal gender on their birth certificates.
Brenda Appleton*, Transgender Victoria spokesperson said “The power of the speeches and the outcome in the Council today has been amazing and helps heal the damage from the debate 3 years ago.
“Trans rights are human rights and we welcome the passing of this bill. It is important that we can all having documents which reflect who we are and enable us to get on with our lives with pride rather than hiding in the closet” said Appleton.
Another spokesperson for Transgender Victoria, Sally Goldner*, said “This is a massive marker-post moment for trans and gender diverse Victorians and our families”.
Sage Akouri^ from Equality Australia said “My human right to identity documents that reflect who I am should never have been debated in Parliament.
“Changing my sex on my birth certificate gives me a sense of safety that I’ve never had before” said Akouri.
“A birth certificate is the first identity document a person has – it says who you are, and where you belong. Being forced to use ID that doesn’t match your identity creates daily problems when applying for a job, going to Centrelink or enrolling to study”, said Anna Brown*, Chief Executive of Equality Australia.
“This victory was led by trans and gender diverse Victorians, despite the awful fearmongering from some quarters.
“Equality Australia supporters contacted their MPs to encourage them to pass the Bill, to share their personal stories, and to stand as allies.
“This small reform means a lot to the people it will affect, and it will do nothing to anyone else”, concluded Ms Brown.
*uses she/her pronouns
^uses they/them pronouns
Media contact: Hayley Conway, 0484 313 466
The current law in Victoria
Currently, a person born in Victoria can only change the sex on their birth certificate if they:
- have undergone “sexual reassignment surgery”
- can provide statutory declarations from 2 medical practitioners verifying their surgery, and
- can only be recognised as “male” or “female” on their birth certificate.
- In practice, this means that children under 18 generally can’t change their legal sex. The current law already ensures that a new birth certificate must not state the person’s previous name or sex, and the Registrar can already issue a birth certificate which leaves the sex field blank, or without a sex field listed on the birth certificate entirely.
What will The Bill do?
The Bill will remove these barriers for trans and gender diverse people wanting to change the legal sex on their birth certificate.
An adult has to provide a supporting statement from an adult who has known them for at least 12 months stating that they believe the application is made in good faith and that they support the application.
The Bill also removes practical barriers to children under 18. Parents applying on their child’s behalf must provide a statutory declaration, and a supporting statement by a ‘prescribed person’ (e.g. a doctor, psychologist or other person prescribed by regulations) confirming that the application is in the child’s best interests. If the child is under 16, these statements must also confirm that the child has the capacity to consent. Where parents disagree, the dispute will be resolved by a Magistrate’s assessment of what is in the child’s best interests.
The Bill will allow people to self-nominate the legal sex on their birth certificate, including a range of gender diverse and non-binary descriptors of their choice, provided that the term used is not obscene, offensive or reasonably established as a sex descriptor.