LGBTIQ+ groups disappointed as WA government fails on promise to scrap the Gender Reassignment Board

27 November 2023 – The WA Government has failed to deliver on its promise to scrap the Gender Reassignment Board, leaving lives in limbo and plans on hold, say national and local LGBTIQ+ groups.

The WA government pledged to abolish the board last December and remove the barriers faced by trans and gender diverse people who wish to update their birth certificate to accurately reflect their gender.

“The Government publicly committed to scrapping the board a year ago and that commitment has hung over our heads ever since,” said Stevie Lane, from Rainbow Futures.

“People born in WA are trapped in an outdated system that still requires them to prove who they are in front of a board. For me, as a non-binary person, it’s a system that doesn’t even acknowledge my existence.

“Right now, there are hundreds of people across the state who are living in limbo. The Government made a commitment to the LGBTIQ+ community and people have been expecting them to act on it.

“We’re tired of hearing the same promises over and over again while WA continues to fall behind the rest of the country.”

Equality Australia CEO Anna Brown said the reforms would be consistent with the process available for Australian passports.

“It’s been almost 12 months since the WA government declared it would abolish the board as a priority issue,” Ms Brown said.

“People have put on hold plans to change their birth certificate to avoid what can be a time-consuming, costly and humiliating process. During this period, nothing has changed, and the board has seen two presidents come and go with an ever-increasing backlog of cases.

“Having a birth certificate that does not align with your gender means that trans people may be forced to out themselves when applying for jobs, registering for school or university, accessing support services or opening a bank account,” she added.

Dr Thomas Drake-Brockman (they/them), Chairperson of TransFolk of WA said trans and gender diverse people simply want their birth certificates to reflect who they truly are.

“The Board is an ongoing injury and impediment to the dignity and wellbeing of trans and gender diverse Western Australians,” they said.

“Repeated delays and dysfunction only serve to further demonstrate that the Board must be abolished. These reforms are too important to put off until after elections or to delay for political reasons.

“TransFolk encourages the Cook government to make good on commitments to abolish the Gender Reassignment Board without delay.”

Ms Brown also stressed the need for the state government to act on its commitment to reform the Equal Opportunity Act WA (1984) to ensure LGBTIQ+ people are protected from discrimination, including students and staff in religious schools.

“All LGBTIQ+ people and their families must be protected from discrimination and it’s time for religious schools and organisations to play by the same rules as everyone else,” she said.

“These changes to the Act, along with abolishing the board, will finally bring WA in line with most other states and territories.”

Interviews can be arranged with people directly impacted by the delays.

Media Contact: Mike Hitch. mike.hitch@equalityaustralia.org.au, 0426 812 115