The Victorian Government tabled a Bill to amend 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.
While we welcome the Bill it’s too soon to celebrate, in 2016 the same laws failed to pass the upper house by just one vote. We are going to need everyone to get behind these reforms to ensure they don’t fail again.
Why is it important?
For most people, updating their birth certificate is really simple. But for trans or gender diverse people, updating your birth certificate so it correctly reflects who you are, can be almost impossible. A birth certificate is the first 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.
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.
How to support the Bill
This Bill will improve the lives of trans and gender diverse Victorians but it is not a done deal yet, we’re going to need your support to get it passed.
Pledge your support for the Bill and we will keep you up to date on the progress and let you know how you can take action.