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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Gender diversity legislation tabled in ACT

A bill enabling young people to have their identified gender reflected on official documents is today being tabled in the Legislative Assembly by ACT Social Justice Minister Shane Rattenbury.

The amendment to the Births, Deaths and Marriages Act will mean young people can apply to change their birth gender, to the gender they identify with.

Meridian (formerly the AIDS Action Council of the ACT) CEO Philippa Moss welcomed the announcement.  

“I think Canberra is an incredibly progressive jurisdiction,” she said.

“We have a list of other states and territories doing the same thing, so we want to remain up to date. Tasmania and Victoria are two states that have already passed this legislation.”

The legislation details requirements for young people 16 years of age and above to apply directly to the Registrar, while young people from age 12 need to apply to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Children younger than 12 also must apply to the Tribunal and need parental consent.

Ms Moss said the requirements were reasonable and Meridian would be open to offering a peer navigation service for those looking to go through the journey of gender diversity.

“I think it’s important to have rules and regulations around documentation. It seems reasonable as long as the process doesn’t become onerous for the people involved and they have as much support as they can,” she said.

“A huge decision like this is not taken lightly by young people. They have thought and been through a lot of different support around them in making that decision.”

The Tribunal will determine whether applicants under 16 years of age have a sufficient understanding of the decision being made.

Mr Rattenbury said these precautions were important in passing the legislation.

“It does put in place important protections where the administrative and civil tribunal needs to ensure the young person understands the implications of the decision they are making,” he said. 

“This is really important in terms of breaking down stigma and making sure young people can have their documentation reflect the gender identity they demonstrate in the community.”

Tate McAllister from A Gender Agenda said the bill would mean a great deal to the transgender and gender diverse community.

“Going for a job or maybe applying for TAFE as a young person, they might live in the world as a man but if they have documentation that identifies them as female, that opens them up to a lot of discrimination, potential stigma, bullying,” he said.

“This is something that will affect a small number of people, but it is life changing for them.”

The same legislation would also allow adopted people to show both their birth parents and adoptive parents on their birth certificates.  

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