In a slight silver lining to the otherwise dull, grey cloud that is the state of the nation right now, trans and gender diverse Victorians officially have the freedom to choose the gender shown on their birth certificates.

Regardless of whether or not they’ve undergone major reassignment surgery, trans Victorians can nominate the sex listed on their birth registration, after new laws came into effect on Friday.

Victoria is the fifth state or territory to pass the legislation to recognise peoples’ gender identification without the requirement of invasive surgery, following in the footsteps of SA, WA, Tasmania and the ACT.

“For too long trans and gender diverse communities have been sent a painful and false message that there is something wrong with being trans or gender diverse that needs to be ‘fixed,’” Attorney-General Jill Hennessy said on Friday.

“We’ve removed an unfair and unnecessary barrier – allowing trans and gender diverse Victorians to finally access a birth certificate that truly reflects who they are without having to undergo invasive and costly surgery.”

The laws, which were passed in state parliament last August, mean that Victorians can now select “female”, “male” or any other accepted gender descriptor on their legal birth certificate.

There’s no exhaustive list of gender descriptors, but according to the Victorian Births, Deaths and Marriages website, you can list any descriptor you choose as long as it fits their criteria (under 100 characters, not impractical or offensive and doesn’t contain symbols/other characters).

Obviously, there are exceptions to the rule and the government reserves the right to refuse descriptors as they see fit. But considering an overwhelming majority of the people utilising this service are people who are genuinely just trying to live their damn lives, it seems unlikely that the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages will have too many people trying to register obscene or offensive gender descriptors.

According to Minister for Equality Martin Foley, the new laws aim to deliver “a basic right which was long overdue.”

“Equality is not negotiable in Victoria,” Foley said on Friday. “And today, we’re a step closer to achieving it for all LGBTIQ Victorians.”

There’s not a lot of good news around the world right now as the coronavirus pandemic continues, but Victoria took a big step in the right direction today when it comes to equality for LGBTQI+ Australians, and that’s worth celebrating.