We support birth certificate reform

We support birth certificate reform

Thursday, 15 August 2019

At Victoria Legal Aid we see first-hand the harmful impact that a denial of identity has on transgender and gender-diverse people. We see it in our Equality Law program, where we assist people facing discrimination because of their gender identity. We see it across our practice areas helping transgender and gender-diverse people receive justice in the courts. That’s why we support the proposed changes to the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1996 this week in Victoria’s parliament. This is an opportunity to remove harmful barriers to transgender and gender-diverse people obtaining identity documents that reflect who they are.

In Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory, people can alter the sex on their birth certificate to align with their gender without requiring surgery. The proposed law will add Victoria to this list.

We have had transgender and gender-diverse clients call us, distressed by their inability to change their birth certificate under the current laws, concerned that they will and do experience greater discrimination because their ID doesn’t reflect who they are. Without an updated birth certificate transgender and gender-diverse people are forced to out themselves when applying for jobs, opening bank accounts, or otherwise verifying their identity and are often subjected to misgendering and discrimination as a result.

All transgender and gender-diverse people should be safe to be who they are without the fear of being excluded or bullied, and our laws and institutions should always allow people to feel comfortable, included and represented. These changes to the law will enable transgender and gender-diverse people to have their gender identity recognised and are an important step towards them achieving equality. To many of us, updating our ID is a mundane experience, but for those who cannot, the simple fact of having your identity acknowledged and recognised can be transformative.

Get help and support

We understand that the debate around reform may be difficult for transgender and gender-diverse clients, staff and their families. We encourage anyone affected to seek support and note the availability of the Victorian LGBTIQ+ telephone counselling service on 1800 184 527.

If you have experienced discrimination on the basis of your gender identity, read about your rights Sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination.

More information

Read the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner’s statement about changes to the Act.

Read Victorian MPs to debate bill to let transgender people change birth certificate without surgery in The Guardian.

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