A Queensland parliamentary committee has backed controversial legislation that will make it possible for people to change the gender on their birth certificate in line with their personal identity.
Under the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Bill , people as young as 16 will be able to apply to change the sex on their birth certificate with a just a statutory declaration and a supporting statement.
The bill defines gender as is “a person’s internal and individual experience of gender, whether or not it corresponds with the sex assigned to the person at birth”.
Children under 16 will need consent form both parents and a statement from a professional, such as a social worker or psychologist, or a court order if both parents can’t agree.
The legislation is consistent with the belief that people are born neither male nor female, but instead have an inherent gender identity that may or may not align with their anatomy.
Strengthening recognition of trans people
Committee Chair Peter Russo said the the bill seeks to modernise existing laws to make registration services “relevant, responsive and contemporary”, and strengthen recognition of trans and gender diverse people.
The report, released late on Friday, notes a range of concerns related to gender self-ID, including women’s rights and safety, women’s sports, the ability of children to make an informed decision about their gender, and arguments about whether sex should equal gender for legal purposes .
However the committee concluded that “On the basis of all evidence submitted, the committee is satisfied the Bill will achieve its policy objectives”.
Under the current laws, people in Queensland can only change their sex on their birth certificates if they’ve had sex reassignment surgery.
Under the amended laws, people will be able to nominate a sex descriptor of their choice, including male, female, trans man, trans woman, ‘agender’, ‘genderqueer’ or ‘non-binary’ as long as the change isn’t sought for fraudulent or improper purposes.
Sex versus gender
The committee also backed conflating sex with gender, noting the Queensland Human Rights Commission’s view that using ‘biological sex’ as the only factor for interpreting sex could be incompatible with human rights.
The government says the legislation will put Queensland in line with all other states and territories – apart from NSW and WA – that have removed the legislative requirement for sex reassignment surgery before changing the sex on their birth registration.
On the basis of all evidence submitted, the committee is satisfied the Bill will achieve its policy objectives.Queensland Legal Affairs and Safety Committee report on the Births Deaths and Marriages Registration Bill
During hearings earlier this year the committee heard it was “madness” to believe people could be ‘born in the wrong body’ and that the leglisation could potentially give predatory men access to women’s spaces.
However proponents of the bill argued the changes were a minor administrative trade-off for improving the safety, emotional wellbeing and human rights of trans-identifying and gender non-conforming people.
The release of the report comes after Scottish man Adam Graham, who was last month convicted of two rapes, was sent to a women’s prison after identifying as a woman, “Isla Bryson”, while awaiting trial.
Bryson was later sent to a men’s jail amid public outcry.
The Scottish Prison Service has since reversed its inclusive policy and says transgender prisoners will now initially be sent to jails matching their sex at birth.
The UK government in January blocked a bill to allow people in Scotland to change their gender by self-declaration.
Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon, who had championed the nation’s gender self-ID campaign, resigned last February but denied it had anything to do with the contentious reforms.
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