Image: Photo: Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras 2022.
By DOUGLAS MAGALETTI
A petition has been posted to the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales asking that transgender people be given the opportunity to “Self-ID” their legal gender.
The petition requests that the state amend or introduce legislation that would relax the current processes that transgender individuals must undergo to affirm their gender in the eyes of the state, stating that the existing system is both too costly and too invasive.
“It rounds out that to just be able to change the gender on your (New South Wales) birth certificate is the same cost as putting a deposit down for an apartment in Sydney”, says Monica Harrison, the author of the petition.
Current Process Humiliating
The current procedure in New South Wales, including an application to the state’s Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages to change one’s gender marker, demands that transgender individuals must have “undergone a sex affirmation procedure” and be subsequently reviewed by a panel of experts.
In effect, the state requires trans individuals to undergo extensive surgical procedures and intrusive verification processes to be legally recognised as their affirmed gender.
“[The current process] not only affects New South Wales residents, but any transgender person who was born with a New South Wales birth certificate around Australia,” says Harrison.
“They can’t change their details on anything without having to out themselves, because they have to produce their birth certificate”.
The petition states that “This process is humiliating, outdated, and unnecessary”.
NSW Laws Are Antiquated
Indeed, compared to other states New South Wales’ gender marker laws are largely antiquated, sharing the legislative requirement for a surgical sexual reassignment procedure with Western Australia alone. Queensland, while still technically a part of this group, has since announced the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Bill of 2022, which aims to remove the requirement entirely.
Other states such as Victoria have long since removed their requirements as well, as in the Victorian Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Amendment of 2019, and allowed transgender individuals to self-identify their gender on legal documents by requiring only a statutory declaration and supporting statement.
It is ultimately this outcome that the petition aims to achieve. “The current laws [in New South Wales] are out of step with federal law and human rights, Harrison says, “so if nothing else we need to bring things in line with the rest of Australia”.
The petition is currently available on the New South Wales Parliament website and is live until the 17th of August 2023.