Trans People In NSW No Longer Need A Divorce To Change Their Birth Certificate

NSW has passed legislation ditching the requirement for married trans people to divorce their spouse as a prerequisite for having their gender confirmed on their birth certificate.

The laws are a holdover from the outrageously recent time when this country didn’t have marriage equality. (Last year. I’m talking about last year.)

The change was introduced as part of the Miscellaneous Acts Amendment (Marriages) Bill 2018, which largely consisted of a bevvy of wording changes across over 50 acts and regulations that served to “ensure that terms related to marriage and married people are capable of encompassing married couples regardless of sex through the use of gender-inclusive or gender-neutral language.

The bill passed the legislative council yesterday (with only Paul Green and immortal goblin Fred Nile from the Christian Democratic Party voting against), and passed the legislative assembly today.

According to the Human Rights Law Centre, similar legislation has already passed in Victoria, South Australia, and the ACT, with Queensland currently considering their own.

Lauren Foy, co-convenor of the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, said that the requirement had forced some people to make a decision between their marriage and having their gender recognised by the state:

This draconian policy has been causing all sorts of difficulties for trans individuals and we are glad to see it removed from the statute books. Forcing a person to choose between recognition of the person they are and recognition of their relationship with the one they love is cruel.

We have heard from people who have chosen to stay married rather than receive ‘recognition’ by the state. With this change, those happily married couples can stay married, while their individual identity is also being recognised.

As Anna Brown, director of legal advocacy at the HLRC, points out, it’s a good step but there are still changes that need to be made before true equality for trans people is enshrined in law in NSW:

The community has shown their support for marriage equality, it’s time our laws respected marriage equality for all. All governments must reform outdated birth certificate laws so trans and gender diverse people can live with dignity.

This is a step in the right direction but trans people in NSW are still required to undergo invasive surgery before they can change their legal sex. Much more reform is needed to bring birth certificate laws in NSW and many other states into line with best practice worldwide.

We’re getting there, slowly.