The ability to live our true identity free from discrimination is something that many of us take for granted. However, for many trans and gender diverse people, this is a right that has had to be fought for. Unfortunately, many forces still challenge this right. The laws of our State should not be one of those forces.
Therefore, ARC Justice supports the Victorian Government’s proposed amendments to the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1996.
When providing documentation for things such as prospective employment, obtaining a passport, licenses or even bank accounts, the current system means many trans and gender diverse people are forced to provide documentation that does not reflect their identity, with the documentation showing a gender that was assigned at birth. For many, this means sharing with others that they are a trans or gender diverse person. This unnecessarily increases the vulnerability that trans and gender diverse people experience in our community. It opens a person up to further discrimination and attacks on their personal safety. It is also incredibly taxing on a person’s mental health to have to share documentation that doesn’t reflect their identify.
Some critics have argued that while they support all people to live their lives according to their identified gender, they believe birth certificates are intended to record biological sex rather than gender identity. This shows a lack of understanding of how the current system impacts on trans and gender diverse people. One cannot support trans and gender diverse people to live how they identify, while also requiring them to utilise important identifying documentation that is at odds with this.
The proposed changes are powerful and affirming for trans and gender-diverse people and they do not take anything away from, or negatively impact, any other group in our community. The changes will allow trans and gender diverse community members in Victoria to alter the sex on their birth certificates to align with how they identify, without requiring the person to have undertaken surgery. It’s important to remember that there are many reasons why a trans or gender diverse person many not undertake surgery.
By adopting these changes to the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act, it would bring Victoria into line with Tasmania, Western Australia, South Australia and the ACT. Importantly, the proposed changes will uphold community expectations that our laws must protect the rights and uphold the safety of a diverse community.