TRANS and gender diverse people across Victoria are pushing the state parliament’s upper house to pass reforms allowing them to easily change the gender marker on their birth certificate.
Current legislation requires trans and gender diverse people to have undergone costly and intensive sex reassignment surgery before being able to apply for a change on their certificate.
Local mum Meagan hopes the bill will now pass the upper house for the sake of her eleven-year-old trans daughter Evie.
“As much as Evie’s outward appearance matches her gender, if her birth certificate doesn’t it puts her at risk,” she told the Star Observer.
“She’ll be publicly outed every single time she needs to apply for something – getting her licence, opening a bank account, even applying for a job – and you don’t know whether the people she encounters will be deeply religious or discriminatory.
“When we changed Evie’s name on her birth certificate last year it dampened her spirit when she saw it still had an ‘M’ on it.”
Meagan’s daughter Evie said changing the gender marker on her birth certificate would mean a lot to her.
“That would make me feel whole and really recognised,” she said.
“To be able to look at that and see it says female, that would mean everything.”
The government’s bill is likely to be debated in the upper house late next week, and needs a majority vote to become a reality.
All Liberal MPs have stated they will vote against the reforms, while all Labor, Greens, and Australian Sex Party MPs have stated they will vote in favour of them.
With 20 assured “yes” votes out of 40, the house is currently one vote shy of what will be needed to pass the bill.
This means the deciding votes will lay with three members of the crossbench: Shooters, Fishers, and Farmers Party MPs Jeff Bourman and Daniel Young, and independent MP James Purcell.
All three told the Star Observer they were still considering the bill and hadn’t yet made a decision.
Trans man Grey McGowan believes the current legislation is discriminatory, as many trans and gender diverse people don’t want, can’t afford, or are physically unable to have sex reassignment surgery.
“If you’re a trans guy and you plan on having children and breastfeeding, you can’t have surgery,” he told the Star Observer.
“If you aren’t medically able to have the surgery, or don’t want to have it, or can’t afford it, you should still have the right to change your document.
“I can change my name and Births, Deaths, and Marriages will trust that it’s honest but the system doesn’t work the same way for gender – the legitimacy is questioned and debated instead.”
McGowan added that for trans men, only top surgery is available in Australia which isn’t seen as ‘complete’ sex reassignment surgery when applying to have your gender marker changed.
“You can’t get the full body surgery in Australia so you need to be rich enough to travel and find a surgeon who’s willing to do it,” he said.
“It’s expensive, it takes a long time, and yet that’s the only way you can be recognised on your birth certificate.”
Greens MP Sam Hibbins said if the bill is voted down next week the government wouldn’t be able to revisit it until the next term of parliament in over two years time.
“The crossbench MPs voted against adoption equality reform last year but I hold out hope,” he told the Star Observer.
“This is a key legislative change that trans people are looking for in this term of parliament, and this is our best chance in the foreseeable future.
“I’m hoping the government doesn’t rush the vote in the upper house while there’s still this uncertainty – we want to make sure they’re doing the work to get those crossbenchers over the line.”
Lawyer at the Human Rights Law Centre Lee Carnie has been urging Victorians to email their MPs before the debate.
“These reforms are critical for the mental health of people who already feel marginalised,” she told the Star Observer.
“Any delay will only add to the discrimination many people confront on an almost daily basis.
“We’re hopeful the crossbench MPs will carefully consider the proposed bill on its merits and the enormous benefits they will deliver for trans, gender diverse, and intersex people.”
The debate is expected to commence late next week, and carry on into the following week.
You can email Victoria’s upper house about the birth certificate reforms here: vicbirthcerts.com