20 Aug 2018

Debate over right to change gender on birth certificates

12:28 pm on 20 August 2018

A proposed law change will make it too easy to change gender on birth certificates, a transwoman says.

Hand with pen over application form on blure water glass background

Photo: 123rf

A select committee recommended last week that the law be changed to allow people to apply directly to the births registry rather than go through court.

But transwoman Diane Sparkes, 77, does not want there to be a removal of medical evidence, which is required when going through the court process.

"Discarding the right to apply to the Family Court for a declaration of sex - where it took into account the integrity of the applicant, their specific circumstances and medical opinion as a means of protecting the rights of women and their safety - is not acceptable.

"Replacing it instead with a process that makes it easier for the individual to basically say he identifies as a woman without any proof or giving any guarantees that he will stay that way, borders on ridiculous."

Ms Sparkes had to go through the Family Court to get her birth certificate when she transitioned a decade ago.

She wanted the law to ensure a person got medical sign-off on their gender change.

"This could be a GP who knows the individual's background and integrity."

This was for the protection of female-only spaces, where women could be exposed to male genitalia or at risk of sexual assault, she said.

"The new proposal suggests that some how men have changed and we all know from the MeToo movement they have not. To me it is all about safety."

Agender president Tracee disagreed.

"People have to understand trans people are not predators. They're genuine people that want to get on with their lives."

Tracee chose not to medically transition because she did see the need to choose.

She would best fall under the proposed new gender category of "unspecified" because she lived both as a male and female.

But working as a truck-driver, she said it was often easier to identify more as a male.

"Work boots and a mini skirt don't look good anyway... it comes down to sensibility."

Despite her concerns about women's safety, Ms Sparkes supported the proposal to provide an "unspecified" gender option.