A law passed by the Tasmanian parliament that allows those over 16 to change their gender on their birth certificates went into effect this week.
The Australian state of Tasmania now allows individuals to change their gender identity on their birth certificates without requiring evidence of sex reassignment surgery. Alternatively, Tasmanians can also opt to remove the gender field completely from the document. The landmark change comes after the state parliament passed a law earlier this year in April. This makes Tasmania the first jurisdiction in which gender on birth certificates is optional, SBS News reports. The LGBTQIAP+ community celebrated the legislative progress with great fanfare. Many claimed the law will change and save lives.
The verdict brings Tasmania in line with the Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory, South Australia, and Western Australia with regard to trans rights. At present, all these regions do not require trans citizens to undergo sex reassignment surgery in order to change the gender on their official birth certificates. This gives formal recognition to the sociological idea that genitalia does not define one's gender and that gender is fluid, existing on a spectrum rather than as a binary.
With the verdict now implemented, Tasmanian citizens aged 16 or older can change the registered gender on their birth certificates—even without prior approval from their parents or guardians. While the law faced some opposition in the government, it passed in the lower house on the casting vote of Liberal Speaker Sue Hickey. Victoria hopes to follow in Tasmania's footsteps soon enough; the state parliament passed a similar law this summer in June.
As per ABC News, Greens leader Cassy O'Connor, who has a transgender son, first introduced the legislative change in collaboration with Labor's Shadow Attorney-General Ella Haddad. She asserted in an interview, "Nation-leading laws come into effect today, so young people like my beautiful boy Jasper can go along to Births, Deaths, and Marriages and make sure that their identity documents reflect who they really are. These laws will transform the lives of many transgender and non-binary Tasmanians. The 97-98 percent of Tasmanians for whom they don't apply to are unlikely to even notice."
For transgender rights advocate Martine Delaney, who is trans herself and finally amended her gender on her birth certificate, this could not be any truer. "I am incredibly excited, not just for myself but for all trans and gender-diverse Tasmanians that this is finally a reality," she told ABC News. "I think the people who were spreading the misinformation and attempting to make it a scenario of 'unforeseen consequences' should understand that really this is just a small, life-affirming change for a small number of people and it's not going to change life for anyone else."
According to Premier Will Hodgman, however, there are numerous risks involved in passing such a law. He affirmed that a review of the operation of the legislation was already in the works. "The legislation was brought into our parliament in a clumsy, ill-considered way against the advice from legal experts about the potential risks of doing so, but Labor and the Greens joined together and did it anyway," said the conservative.
Nonetheless, the LGBTQIAP+ community has erupted in celebration. Gender and sexuality activists will mark the milestone in gender law with cupcakes and champagne at the Registry of Births, Deaths, and Marriages in Hobart, Tasmania later this week. Roen Meijers, a disability rights advocate who is nonbinary, will be at the forefront of the celebration. "My life until now has been having to say I'm something I'm not or having to argue endlessly with systems to prove that I am who I am..." Roen shared. "[Changing my birth certificate] is validation, I guess, that who I am is real and acceptable and okay, but more than that it's also visibility. I'm choosing to have non-binary on my birth certificate so everyone can see, so maybe young people growing up will grow up in a society where there are other visible non-binary people and they know from the start that that's an option." The future for Australia's LGBTQIAP+ rights does indeed look bright.