New South Wales has become the fourth state to allow trans people to change the gender on their birth certificate without undergoing forced divorce from their spouse.

Late on Wednesday, NSW parliament passed the Miscellaneous Acts Amendment (Marriages) which amended over 50 acts and regulations to ensure they are either gender-inclusive or gender-neutral.

 “The update to the NSW BDM Act is an absolute step in the right direction for trans people and their families. The Gender Centre welcomes any continued efforts to improve the lives of our community,” said NSW Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby co-convenor Lauren Foy.

“Married people who transition can now change the gender on their birth certificate without first getting divorced. This draconian policy has been causing all sorts of difficulties for trans individuals and we are glad to see it removed from the statute books.

“Forcing a person to choose between recognition of the person they are and recognition of their relationship with the one they love is a cruel.

We have heard from people who have chosen to stay married rather than receive ‘recognition’ by the state. With this change those happily married couples can stay married, while their individual identity is also being recognised,” Foy said.

“I am a trans woman. I am a woman practically, socially, and legally in everything except one important document. My birth certificate still assigns me as male,” Kate Toyer told The Human Rights Law Centre.

“To change this, I would have to get divorced from the woman with whom I have three beautiful children. I would have to get divorced from the woman I love more than anything else in this world.”

Toyer has been married to her wife for over two decades but wasn’t previously able to change the gender on her birth certificate.

“This reform is an acknowledgment of the love I have for my wife and family. Now I don’t have to choose between having true legal documents or having a beautiful wife and family,” she said.

NSW law remains unequal for trans people in many aspects, including limiting who can get new birth certificates to those who have had surgery.

“This is a step in the right direction but trans people in NSW are still required to undergo invasive surgery before they can change their legal sex,” HRLC’s Anna Brown said.

“Much more reform is needed to bring birth certificate laws in NSW and many other states into line with best practice worldwide.”

“The NSW government is updating state laws following the historic achievement of marriage equality,” Liberal MP Don Harwin said.

“More still needs to be done to support the trans community, including removing the need for forced surgical intervention before a person can update their identity documents including birth certificates.”

New South Wales follows Victoria, South Australia and the ACT in enacting changes to ease the legal burden on trans people.

A similar bill is currently before Queensland parliament and public inquiries are ongoing in Western Australia.

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