As of today, people in one Australian state can officially choose whether their gender is included on their birth certificates.
Tasmania has become the nation’s first jurisdiction in which gender on a birth certificate is optional, after state parliament passed laws in April which come into effect today (September 5).
The law also removed the requirement for transgender people to have sexual reassignment surgery in order to have a new gender recognised.
People in Tasmania aged 16 years or older can now apply to change their registered gender without parental approval, as reported by SBS News.
Although the Liberal state government had opposed such changes, and the legislation faced lengthy amendments in the Upper House, it was passed on the casting vote of Liberal Speaker Sue Hickey who crossed the floor.
As per ABC News, four people have so far booked to change their gender at the Births, Deaths and Marriages office today – including disability advocate Roen Meijers, who identifies as non-binary.
Meijers told the television network:
My life until now has been having to say I’m something I’m not or having to argue endlessly with systems to prove that I am who I am. I’m really looking forward to not having to do that any more.
Meijers hopes to become an example to children and teenagers in Tasmania who also feel they are neither male nor female. They said that while changing their birth certificate was ‘validation’, it was ‘more than that’ as it also meant ‘visibility’.
The disability advocate explained:
I’m choosing to have non-binary on my birth certificate so everyone can see, so maybe young people growing up will grow up in a society where there are other visible non-binary people and they know from the start that that’s an option.
Transgender advocate Martine Delaney, who fought for 15 years to have the changes introduced, is also booked to legally amend her birth certificate, describing herself as ‘incredibly excited, not just for myself but for all trans and gender-diverse Tasmanians’.
A momentous day for the state’s transgender community, with Tasmanians now able to amend their birth certificates! Martine Delaney was first in line, she’s waited 15 years for this. @WINNews_Tas pic.twitter.com/VYhwqrvegF
— Judy Augustine (@JudyAugustine) September 5, 2019
Greens leader Cassy O’Connor, who has a transgender son, introduced the legislation with Labour’s Shadow Attorney General, Ella Haddad. She said it was a historic day, and Tasmania should be proud it has led the nation in this way.
Nation-leading laws come into effect today, so young people like my beautiful boy Jasper can go along to Births Deaths and Marriages and make sure that their identity documents reflect who they really are.
These laws will transform the lives of many transgender and non-binary Tasmanians. The 97-98 per cent of Tasmanians for whom they don’t apply to are unlikely to even notice.
The legislation has brought Tasmania in line with the Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia. The Victorian parliament also voted in favour of such a change in June.
We did it! Birth certificate reform has passed in Victoria. ⠀
Victoria joins Tas, NT, SA and the ACT in passing laws that make it easier for people to update their birth certificates without facing unnecessary and invasive medical interventions.
⠀#MyIDMyIdentity #SpringSt pic.twitter.com/G6eHpwVCOL
— EqualityAustralia 🌈 (@EqualityAu) August 27, 2019
The law in Victoria was passed on August 27, and will allow people to self-nominate whether they are listed as male, female, or any other gender diverse or non-binary descriptor of their choice.
Liberals again opposed the legislation – conservative Liberal MP Bernie Finn described it as an ‘attack on our society’ – but the Victorian legislative council voted 26 to 14 in favour of the bill.
What a momentous day for trans rights in Australia.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues, and want to speak to someone in confidence contact Mindline Trans+ on 0300 330 5468. The line is open Mondays and Fridays, 8pm to midnight and is run by trans volunteers.
A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).