Western Australia To Abolish Gender Reassignment Board

Western Australia To Abolish Gender Reassignment Board
Image: Source: Anna Shvets on Pexels

Western Australia has finally abolished its gender reassignment board, an arduous and bureaucratic process that required trans people to go through surgery before being allowed to change their birth certificates.

Before these changes, Western Australians seeking to update the sex on their birth certificates needed to prove they had gone through medical procedures like hormones or surgery, supply letters of support from all medical practitioners involved in their transition, include a letter from a psychiatrist or psychologist, and provide two or three letters of support from friends and family, along with certified copies of identity documents.

After receiving all of this, the Gender Recognition Board then met to discuss whether a recognition certificate should be issued.

If approved, the recognition certificate could then be taken to the Department of Births, Deaths and Marriages where the applicant could finally begin the process to change their birth certificate.

It did not allow people to change the sex on their birth certificate to anything other than male or female.

Source: WikiMedia Commons

Lengthy process to be streamlined

In the best of circumstances, this application process took months. In practice, due to the expense of trans healthcare and the board frequently going on hiatus, it could take a trans person years to gather all the required paperwork and proceed through the system.

Despite this, WA Times reports that the number of applications to the board has ‘skyrocketed’ in the past 15 years, from five in 2008 to 80 in 23.

Under the new system, people will apply directly to the Department of Births, Deaths and Marriages with a letter from their doctor or psychologist, and ‘non-binary’ and ‘intersex/indeterminate’ will be included as options.

Based on recommendations made by the state’s Law Reform Commission in 2018, the McGowan government introduced legislation in 2022 to streamline the process of changing sex markers on birth certificates.

More changes to come

Premier Roger Cook released a statement saying “Everyone deserves the respect and dignity of being recognised as themselves, to have their legal identity align with their lived identity…

“These important reforms will mean that trans and gender-diverse members of our community will no longer be required to undergo gender affirming surgery to change their gender on their birth certificate, removing the outdated barriers that deny people identity documents that accurately reflect their gender.”

Source: Anna Tarazevich on Pexels

Attorney General John Quigley stated “Western Australia is the only jurisdiction where a Gender Reassignment Board determines a person’s application to change sex.

“WA and New South Wales are the only Australian jurisdictions that require applicants to have undergone medical or surgical reassignment in order to change the sex on their birth certificate.” He told WA Today that these changes would bring the state “out of the dark ages”.

The ABC reports that teenagers between 12 and 18 would need the consent of both parents, and children under 12 would need approval from the WA Family Court in order to change their birth certificates.

The legislation also prohibits people with certain criminal convictions from changing their legal gender.

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