Queensland and national LGBTIQ+ groups say new laws allowing trans and gender diverse people to accurately reflect their gender on their birth certificates are “life-changing”.
The bill, passed in Queensland Parliament tonight, means transgender people will no longer be required to undergo gender affirming surgery to update their gender on their birth certificate.
Instead, they will provide a supporting statement from someone who has known them for 12 months or more. The bill also gives people greater say over their gender descriptors, including non-binary recognition.
“We have been waiting for these life-changing reforms for a very long time and this is a momentous day for our community,” said Ymania Brown, a trans woman and spokesperson for national LGBTIQ+ group Equality Australia.
“Queensland was one of the last places in Australia to have cruel and outdated legal barriers that deny many trans people ID that accurately reflects their gender.”
Until now trans people could be forced to out themselves when applying for jobs, registering for school or university, accessing support services or opening a bank account.
“This is an intrusive and deeply distressing process. Most Australians see their birth certificates as a simple piece of paper but for trans and gender diverse people it is about our right to exist and be seen for who we are,” Ms Brown said.
Currently people in Queensland can update their gender marker on Commonwealth documents like their passport without the need for surgery. They can now update their Queensland-issued birth certificate without surgery on their reproductive organs, and there is no gender marker recorded on Queensland driving licenses or Proof of Age Cards.
Under the new laws, trans and gender diverse young people will also be able update their gender markers with either the consent of their parents or court authorisation.
Jeremy Wiggins, CEO of national trans youth and family support organisation Transcend Australia:
“This is a historic moment with Queensland joining the majority of other states and territories to remove the requirement for transgender people to undergo surgery before updating their birth certificate.
“This legislative reform reinforces the reality that transgender people should be able to live their lives as who they are, without cruel and outdated legal barriers or procedures.”
Jane Hopkins, from parents’ group PFLAG+ Queensland:
“As parents, our greatest concern will always be that of the safety and wellbeing of our children; physically, emotionally and psychologically.
“The changes to the Act will allow all children to have the potential to lead productive lives, whilst maintaining the respect and dignity which comes with being recognised as their true identity.“
Heather Corkhill from Rainbow Families Queensland:
“The Queensland Government’s birth certificate reforms recognise and celebrate diverse families and promote equality and inclusion. These long-awaited changes support and affirm rainbow families and promote a message to our children and to the wider community that love is what makes a family.”
Matilda Alexander, Human Rights Lawyer and LGBTI Legal Service Patron:
“These changes are not new or radical. They are a reflection of the recognition in broader society that our LGBTI community is no longer hidden in a closet. We cannot be ignored on paper or in real life. It is about ensuring that Queenslanders’ lived reality matches their legal identity.”
Born in Queensland, Emily Wells, 60, is currently living in Tennant Creek, NT, and working for the Barkly Regional Council.
“I look at my birth certificate as something that’s an error, something that’s wrong. This means I get to correct something that has been wrong for 50 years,” she said.
“It’s a horrendous document and I get so frustrated with it I tear it up. I get so anxious before I have to show it that I’ve folded it over and over and over again, it’s like a little ball now. ”
“This is not just about me, it’s for all the trans and non-binary people in the future who won’t have to have suffer that anxiety and embarrassment because their birth certificate will be the right way. It is for all the future generations, so they never have to go through what I have. “
“I am so looking forward to being able to change my birth certificate – I might just frame it and put it on the wall.”
Roz Dickson, 58, is an electrician who lives with her son in the city of Logan.
“You have this identity document, but you hide it because it’s inconsistent with your life and how society sees you. This document is meant to explain who you are but it’s not you,” she said. Ms Dickson said surgery was impossible for some trans people, like her friend whose cancer treatment meant she could no longer be operated on.
“Without today’s changes these women would never be able to have their primary form of ID reflect who they are. They would live an entire life with a document that is a betrayal of who they are.”
Paul* lives in Brisbane with his wife and two children, twins aged 10.
“She is my hero and she has already done one of the bravest things I can imagine,” he said of his trans daughter.
“She hates her birth certificate, she loathes it, although when we got her name changed on it, she danced around the house.”
“I just want her to grow up and live a dull and uneventful life where she can a member of the swimming club and pay her taxes and find someone to fall in love with. I want her to be 24 and able to have a coffee and feel safe. I want her to be accepted for who she.”
*Paul has not used his real name to protect the identity of his family .
A client of the LGBTI Legal Service, Mr Coonan, 42, is a single parent who lives with his three young children in Brisbane. The new laws also allow parents to accurately record and change their identity information on their children’s birth certificates.
“I live as a man, I’m legally male, my kids call me Dad and finally their birth certificates will reflect that. I can provide their birth certificates to day care and schools without having to explain my gender history and request that they also call me Dad.”
Media contact: Tara Ravens 0408 898 154 or email@example.com