The Tasmanian Law Reform Institute (TLRI) finds that the State’s 2019 gender identity reform laws do not create any significant or unintended consequences for Tasmania’s justice system.

Tasmania’s parliament passed the Marriage and Gender Amendments Act in April 2019, allowing transgender and gender diverse (TGD) citizens to obtain birth certificates that accurately reflect their gender identity when it overhauled State law with the Marriage and Gender Amendments Act.

The Act made the recording of sex on a birth certificate optional by recording it at a separate public register, This change allows Tasmanians to have their gender recognised without seeking surgery, and provides diverse options for gender descriptors on legal documents.

Due to the unseen nature of the laws which came into effect in September last year, Tasmania’s Attorney-General asked the TLRL at the time to consider the impact of the reforms on Tasmania’s legal system.

TLRI researcher, Dylan Richards led a wide array of public and stakeholder consultation before concluding today that the Act mainly concerns TGD community-members by making their lives easier when it comes to accessing services.

“These benefits have not come at a cost for most other Tasmanians,” he said. “We hope the report will provide clarity for other Australian states that are considering following Tasmania’s lead towards law that supports human rights for diverse gender identities.”

The review was funded through the Solicitor’s Guarantee Fund with support from the Tasmanian Government Department of Justice, the University of Tasmania and the Law Society of Tasmania.

During research, the TLRI sought community input on issues relating to consent, authorisation and the impact of medical procedures on young people – with particular consideration for intersex community-members.

As a result, the TLRI also recommends new laws establishing clear guidelines about the criminalisation of non-consensual surgeries, as well as creating avenues for intersex people to obtain compensation for harms suffered as a result of non-consensual treatment.

“We found that surgical interventions on intersex children can have significant long-term consequences that last into adulthood,” Richards said.

“Given the ongoing concern from the intersex community about this kind of surgery, we recommend stronger, clearer guidance around consent to medical treatment.

“Members of the transgender community will also benefit from improved clarity around consent to medical treatment.”

From September 2019 to May 2020, 63 Tasmanians have applied to change their gender on an existing birth certificate, while 743 people have applied for a certificate without gender details.

78-year-old Latrobe woman, Francene Jacques, had her birth certificate changed to register her as female the morning of September 5 last year.

She told ABC News this week that having her gender identity fully-recognised in legal documents was life-changing.

“It’s just made such a difference to my life. I’ve never been so happy and self-confident,” she said.

“I never realised it was such an important piece of paper until I actually had it.

“I always wanted to be buried as an old woman and I always had the fear I’d be buried as an old man, but once I had that bit of paper I knew I could get my wish.”

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