New laws mean that transgender people can change the gender on their birth certificate without having surgery from today
- The change has been welcomed by transgender rights campaigners
- It means that people can change their birth certificate without expensive surgery
- Children can also change sex, but with parental and doctor’s approval
- It brings Victoria in line with existing laws in Denmark, the UK and New Zealand
Transgender Australians are free to change the gender on their birth certificates without undergoing a new assignment operation from Friday.
It means that people who are transgender, or gender-diverse, can make the change in Victoria, which campaigners have called a ‘memorable’ step forward for trans rights.
The bill for the registration of births, deaths and marriages, submitted by the state government, was passed in August 2019 and will take effect from now on.
It removes the ‘cruel and dishonest’ requirement for transgender people, or anyone who doesn’t identify with the gender on their birth certificate, to have sex reassignment surgery before the form is changed.
The change also allows people to nominate themselves as male, female or other non-binary descriptions.
British singer Sam Smith (pictured on Sydney’s Mardi Gras on February 29) recently came out as a gender fluid, meaning you don’t identify as a man or woman
Similar laws already exist in the United Kingdom, Denmark, New Zealand, Argentina, and some U.S. states.
Those under 18 are also allowed to change the gender stated on their birth certificate, but most have support from their parents and a doctor’s statement.
Campaigners fought for a change, saying some people can’t afford the expensive surgery or just don’t want it.
“These important new laws ensure that everyone can live their life the way they want to, and that includes having a birth certificate that reflects their true identity,” said Attorney General Jill Hennessy at the time.
People in Victoria can change their birth certificate without undergoing sex reassignment surgery (photo, the transgender community on Tiwi Island in Sydney’s Mardi Gras in 2017)
“The current operating obligation sends a painful and false message that there is something wrong with trans or gender diversity that needs to be ‘remedied’ – that is why we are removing this cruel and dishonest barrier.”
New South Wales and Queensland are now the only states where someone had to have sex reassignment surgery to change their birth certificate.
Greens leader Samantha Ratnam also welcomed the reform, writing on Twitter: “A memorable night in which birth certificate reforms pass Vic Parliament’s upper house.”
Tasmania has also voted to make sex optional on birth certificates and allow someone to change sex by signing a legal statement.
Animal Justice Party Member Andy Meddick, who has a 20-year-old transgender son Eden, rejected a suggestion from Melbourne 3AW broadcaster Neil Mitchell that the change would be purely symbolic.
“No, it is not symbolic. For people who are transgender, this means everything in the world to them, ” he said.
Mr. Meddick, whose transgender son revealed his gender dysphoria at age 14, said a birth certificate was more than a piece of paper.
“For them, when they go to get a driver’s license, the driver’s license doesn’t reflect who they are. If they go to get a passport, it doesn’t indicate who they are, “he said.
“They feel isolated, they feel separated from the rest of the world.
“This is another way, it makes us as a society more inclusive that we recognize that these people are who they are and that they are part of us and that we love and support them.”
Animal Justice Party MP Andy Meddick (pictured), who has a 20-year-old transgender son Eden, rejected a suggestion that the change would be purely symbolic