Children Can Now Choose Their Own Gender In Australia
Transgender and gender-diverse people, including children, will now be able to change the gender on their birth certificate in five Australian states.
Victoria became the fifth state to pass the new law following a debate on Tuesday (August 27), when the Victorian legislative council voted 26 to 14 in favour of the bill. It will officially become law once it receives the royal assent.
The change in policy means trans and gender-diverse people will be able to change their birth certificate to reflect the sex they identify with, without undergoing gender reassignment surgery.
Previously, a formal name change on a legal document required the person to have gender reassignment surgery prior to approval.
Under the changes people can self-nominate the sex listed as male, female, or any other gender diverse or non-binary descriptor of their choice – though the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages will be able to refuse to register a descriptor that is obscene, offensive or ‘not reasonably established as a sex descriptor’, The Australian report.
According to The Guardian, the bill requires the person making the application to make a statutory declaration when nominating the sex to be recorded.
They must also include a statement from an adult who has known them for 12 months or more who supports the change and believes the application is being made in good faith.
Children will also be able to self-nominate to change their gender or select a non-binary descriptor of their choice, though they must have permission from their parents and a statement from a psychologist or doctor saying the decision is in the best interests of the child.
Liberals opposed the legislation, with conservative Liberal MP Bernie Finn describing the legislation as an ‘attack on our society’.
He added it would put his daughters in danger and said:
There are two genders. Of the two genders, there is the male – there is homosexual inclination and various paedophilic inclinations, there are a whole range of inclinations, and we could go on with that for quite some time. But in terms of gender, there are only two genders: male and female.
I do not want a man who claims to be a woman to get a birth certificate which says that he is a woman. I do not want him to get that birth certificate and use that as a way to molest women, to molest young girls, as some inevitably will.
The Animal Justice party MP David Meddick countered Finn’s claim, saying:
Throughout history, in many cultures, various genders have been recognised and simply been part of the fabric of society, not pointed at, discriminated against or marginalised in any way.
Life – human life – was observed and accepted in all its wondrous diversity in these communities, but not in all.
The Greens Victorian leader, Samantha Ratnam, said some of the debate had been ‘extremely hurtful’ for the trans and gender-diverse community.
The government previously attempted to change birth certificate legislation in 2016, however it was defeated by one vote.
Attorney-General Jill Hennessy celebrated the passing of the bill on Twitter, writing:
Our birth certificate reforms have passed the Parliament! These overdue reforms will ensure that trans and gender diverse people can have a birth certificate which reflects their true identity.
A small thing to many, but it means a world of difference to someone else.
Victoria joins Tasmania, Northern Territory, South Australia and the ACT in making the change.
Lee Carnie, legal director of Equality Australia, told the Guardian campaigners would set their sights on other states after the success in Victoria, saying:
WA, Queensland and NSW are next in line for birth certificate reform. Equality Australia will be working with trans advocates from across those states for fair birth certificates.
Tasmania was the first state to make the change earlier this year.
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