Pressure may be on the Victorian Government to review gender reassignment laws after a Western Australian tribunal ruled surgery should not be the definitive factor in determining a person’s official gender.
In a decision handed down last week, the WA State Administrative Tribunal found two (female-to-male) trans men should not be required to have surgery in order to receive a gender reassignment certificate.
The WA Gender Reassignment Board refused to issue the two with certificates last year because they had not undergone surgery to affirm their lived-in gender.
TransGender Victoria spokeswoman Sally Goldner said it’s time Victoria followed suit.
“It’s a huge door that’s swung open and it’s now quite clear there’s a precedent within Australia and we need to move on this,” she said.
“Unfortunately, our laws specify that sex affirmation surgery is required on genitals.”
To change gender on a Victorian birth certificate requires surgical genital change for someone transitioning from male-to-female and a hysterectomy for those from female-to-male.
However, it’s likely a legal challenge would need to be mounted before any moves were made on the state’s Gender Recognition Act.
Goldner said the current laws are cruel as they create a situation where trans people are forced to have surgery for their gender to be reflected in law.
“There has to be a probability the current situation is forcing people to have surgery that they don’t really want.
“Particularly in the context of the [Victorian] Charter of Human Rights, to force someone to have an operation to change their birth certificate could be seen as a breach of human rights.”
Goldner said she hopes the WA case will spark discussions in all states on the issue of gender.
WA Gender Project spokesman Aram Hosie said the decision was positive for trans men in WA as they no longer have to worry about constantly proving their gender.
“The law should recognise someone’s gender without mandating surgery people don’t feel they need,” he said.
In the WA case, both applicants had undergone bilateral mastectomies and testosterone treatment and had undergone extensive physical changes consistent with being male.

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