Statement of support: Victorian Birth Certificate Reforms

The Flemington & Kensington Community Legal Centre stands in support of the proposed amendment to the Births, Deaths, and Marriages Act currently before parliament.

When passed, this simple but important amendment will allow trans and gender diverse people to update birth certificates and provide the option of listing genders other than female or male.   The changes are a way to remove harmful barriers to trans and gender diverse people obtaining primary identity documents that reflect who they are.

Our centre runs a specialist, state-wide Police Accountability Project providing victim-centred remedies, strategic litigation, evidence based research, community support and policy and law reform.

Numerous trans and gender diverse clients of our legal service have experienced harassment, abuse or discrimination when in contact with Victoria Police.  Transphobic discrimination by police officers has a profound and detrimental impact on all of those who experience it.

Much of this discrimination occurs when police or Protective Service Officers (PSOs) unintentionally or deliberately misgender a trans, intersex or non-binary person at an initial point of contact or within a custodial setting.

People are required to provide their name & address to police when lawfully stopped & searched, whilst driving, travelling on public transport or at a train station, when arrested or detained by police and under a wide range of other circumstances.

Often, misgendering, abuse, ridicule, hostility or harassment by police occurs at the stage when a person is asked to provide identification.  If the person acts as a witness, provides a statement as a victim or is in police custody for any length of time then the person risks being placed in settings or circumstances where they are at risk of further violence, assault and abuse.  Many trans and gender people diverse in contact with police must navigate, assert, and respond to the denial of their identity without official identification documents which accurately assert their gender.

Having a birth certificate (and therefore access to a greater range of personal identification) with an accurate gender will reduce these risks for trans, intersex and non-binary people every time they interact with police.

We believe strongly that all trans and gender diverse people should be safe to be who they are without the fear of being excluded or bullied, and our laws and institutions should always allow people to feel comfortable, included and represented. These changes to the law will enable trans and gender-diverse people to have their gender identity recognised and are an important step towards equality.

We urge all Victorian parliamentarians to vote in favour of the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Amendment Bill (2019).