TRANS* and intersex residents of the ACT are set for a win tomorrow when the territory’s government is expected to pass laws that will allow them to officially change their gender without requiring reassignment surgery.

The expected changes to the Births Deaths and Marriages Registration Act will allow individuals to alter their birth certificate to identify as male, female or X, and all that is required is for a doctor or psychologist to certify they have received ”appropriate clinical treatment”. The changes would also provide a mechanism for intersex people who want to change the sex recorded on their birth certificate.

In this case, “clinical treatment” has not been defined, leaving it to the doctor or psychologist.

Advocacy group A Gender Agenda welcomed the news.

“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,” AGA spokesman Paul Hyndal said in a statement.

“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 legislation will also extend the time limit for births to be registered from 60 days to six months, giving parents time to decide how to register the gender of their child in cases when they are not clearly male or female.

The new changes will also allow parents to have their child’s gender officially changed if they believe it in their child’s best interests and when they have received ”appropriate clinical treatment”. Gender reassignment surgery is also not required.

The new X category also brings ACT birth certificates into line with Australian passports.

Hyndal said the changes will make the ACT “part of a growing international trend towards the appropriate legal recognition of intersex and gender diverse people”.

Hyndal also highlighted that although this was a step forward in the right direction, more work was required in this area.

“The current practice of unnecessary medical intervention on intersex children and infants constitutes a fundamental breach of an individual’s right to autonomy over their own body, and requires urgent attention.,” he said.

“Transgender and intersex people also currently experience unacceptably high levels of mental health and associated issues as a result of social stigma, discrimination and isolation. Funding specific programs to increase the capacity of mental health professionals, educational institutions and other community organisations is urgently required to effectively address these issues”.

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