Surgery no longer needed for legal sex change

CHANGES to Births, Deaths and Marriages legislation going through the Legislative Assembly this afternoon will allow transgender people to legally change their sex without having gender reassignment surgery.

Heidi Yates, chair of the ACT Government’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer (LGBTIQ) Advisory Council says the previous situation which required “unnecessary, intrusive sterilisation surgery” for legal recognition of a person’s identity was “indefensible”.

“These reforms importantly follow the lead of the Federal Government’s passport policy, which provides an alternate, non-surgical regime for change of sex on key identification documents,” Ms Yates adds.

Council member and spokesperson for transgender and intersex advocacy group A Gender Agenda, Peter Hyndal, also welcomes the changes.

“Previously, many gender diverse people have been forced to use birth certificates which show their sex as different from the way they identify and present,” Mr Hyndal says.

“Intersex people have also not had a clear legislative pathway to amend errors made in the recording of their sex at birth. This predicament has raised very real safety and privacy issues for transgender and intersex people when going about their daily lives. We are aware of specific cases where individuals have experienced discrimination, verbal abuse and been denied services because the sex on their birth certificate did not match their presentation and identity.”

“The changes being debated will also allow transgender and intersex people to show their sex as “X” if appropriate. This brings the ACT into line with the Commonwealth Passport Policy and the Australian Government Guidelines on the Recognition of Sex and Gender, and is part of a growing international trend towards the appropriate legal recognition of intersex and gender diverse people.”

The Bill will also update the definition of ‘intersex’ in ACT law, and provide a clear administrative process for intersex persons to change the sex on their birth certificates.

The reforms implement recommendations from the ACT Law Reform Advisory Council’s 2012 ‘Beyond the Binary’ report, which explores options for legal recognition of transgender and intersex people in the Territory.

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