Northern Territory passes major birth certificate gender reforms

Northern Territory passes major birth certificate gender reforms
Image: The Tiwi Island sistergirls at the 2017 Mardi Gras. Image: Ann-Marie Calilhanna.

Advocates have welcomed the Northern Territory’s passage of significant birth certificate and legal reforms for trans, gender diverse, and intersex people.

The bill will allow Territorians to change the gender on their birth certificate without undergoing sterilising surgery.

The removal of the forced surgery requirement puts the NT ahead of some other Australian states and territories.

Territorians will also be able to change their gender to reflect if they are non-binary or intersex, if they so choose.

The reforms mean that Western Australia and Tasmania remain the only states in Australia where similar changes are still being debated.

“Your birth certificate is the first document you’re given, you should be able to change it to reflect who you are,” said the Human Rights Law Centre’s Lee Carnie.

“But up until now, married Territorians would need to get divorced if they wanted identification documents that matched who they are.

“It’s great to see states and territories finally catching up and delivering marriage equality for all.”

Parents of minors will also now be able to apply for the change on their child’s behalf, and trans people will no longer need to divorce their spouse before updating their birth certificate to match their gender.

“Being Territory born and bred is a source of pride for many. The birth certificate is a key source of truth for this,” said Rainbow Territory’s Stephen Kerry.

“By updating these laws we are recognising another truth, that Territorians who are intersex or transgender exist and have always been part of the fabric of the Territory.

“The Territory is known as a live and let live place. Updating these laws shows the Territory is big enough to be inclusive of all Territorians, regardless of the sex and gender of a person,” Kerry said.

“No longer requiring transgender Territorians to undergo sex reassignment surgery before changing gender on their birth certificates brings the NT in line with the federal passport laws which have been in effect for over a decade,” added Jane Black, a Rainbow Territory member.

Rosalina Curtis, an Arrernte sistergirl from Alice Springs, is thrilled that she’ll be able to change her legal gender to female on her Northern Territory birth certificate.

“I feel very excited about the bill being passed. Now I am able to be recognised as my preferred gender on my birth certificate. I’m very happy for these new changes.

“It would mean a lot to me to change my birth certificate, because I wouldn’t have to justify myself being transgender.

“I can now apply to be legally recognised as female. This will help me with gaining employment and to be recognised for who I truly am,” Curtis said.

The usual suspects have reacted as expected to the changes, with the Australian Conservatives’ Lyle Shelton calling it “madness”.

The NT earlier this year apologised for historical gay sex convictions and announced an expungement scheme.

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One response to “Northern Territory passes major birth certificate gender reforms”

  1. Well done to the Northern Territory government on this “clinical treatment” legal model. Come on both Tasmania and Western Australia – time to repeal the archaic, cruel and draconian divorce, sterilization and sexual reassignment surgery legal requirements. It even includes intersex and non-binary genders too that is long overdue for the LGBTI community within the Northern Territory.