This is the redacted text of an email I sent to my Queensland state MP on 9 December 2022 concerning the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Bill (Qld).
No alterations have been made to the substance of the text. In the original text, the cited sources were embedded as hyperlinks; here, I’ve pulled them out and made them APA 7 style citations to combat link rot.
Dear — and staff,
I hope you are well.
As a constituent, I am writing to you to respectfully urge you to support the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Bill 2022 (Qld), both on the Legislative Assembly floor and in the party room.
As I assume you know, the Bill, if passed, will enable Queenslanders to change the gender on their birth certificate without first undergoing sex reassignment surgery (SRS), abolishing the existing system established by the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 2003 (Qld), under which SRS is a precondition for change of legal gender. The passage of this Bill is of vital importance for a number of reasons.
- Owing to a relative lack of Medicare coverage (Healthdirect Australia, 2022) and the less-than-ideal socioeconomic conditions in which transgender Australians often find themselves (Bretherton et al., 2020), SRS is out of reach even for many trans Australians who desire it and for whom it is medically necessary (World Professional Association for Transgender Health, 2016). This means trans Queenslanders are liable to be denied accurate legal gender recognition on the entirely irrelevant basis that they are not sufficiently rich.
- Employers across multiple sectors can require employees to provide them with birth certificate copies for their records, for instance to check work rights. When this requirement forces transgender people to out themselves to their employers, it facilitates anti-transgender workplace discrimination, notwithstanding that such discrimination may be unlawful (Australian Human Rights Commission, n.d.). Allowing trans Queenslanders to accurately register their own gender limits opportunities for unlawful conduct by eliminating a process step which allows it to arise.
- Residential tenancy applications can require applicants to provide birth certificate copies as part of the application process. This can facilitate discrimination in housing in much the same way as described above. This is an increasingly urgent matter in the current economic conditions, in which the rental market is becoming increasingly brutal and unaffordable for tenants (Heagney, 2022) while pressures that are being relayed by market actors onto workers accentuate the marked socioeconomic disadvantage that transgender workers across the Anglosphere already face (Nath, 2018; Wareham, 2021).
- Of Australia’s eight State and Territory jurisdictions, Queensland along with New South Wales are the only two where SRS continues to be a precondition for a legal change of gender (Pullos Lawyers, n.d.). It is obvious that having been born in Queensland does not make a person any more or less their gender than if they had been born in, for example, Victoria, yet Queensland law in its present state effectively suggests that it does. After twenty years of the present status quo, it is time the law was updated to reflect reality.
Moreover, when considering amendments to the Bill, I implore you to take the following stances with respect to any amendments proposed:
- Support the flexibility of the language around sex descriptors in the current draft. Flexible sex descriptors are essential for the genders of nonbinary people to be recognised, and for intersex people to have documentation which accurately describes their physical characteristics.
- Support making it optional for assigned sex to be recorded on birth certificates. This means that parents of intersex children will not be forced to commit to saddling them with a potentially inaccurate sex assignment, and trans children will have a better chance of not having to contend with an inaccurate assertion by the state about their gender.
- Oppose the imposition of barriers to altering the record of sex other than the existing language in ss 39(2) & 39(3) of the Bill requiring a statutory declaration from a person 18 or over who has known the applicant for at least 12 months. Further barriers would encumber the Government with a duty which is not a good use of its resources and which it is constitutionally not well-equipped to execute.
I am asking you to take these positions because gender and the expression thereof are inherently specific to and determined by the individual. As it currently stands, State law recognises this — but as a “threat,” of sorts, that requires monitoring and checking. Queensland law in its current form effectively stipulates that gender is so volatile and dangerous that only certain kinds of people can be trusted with the right to determine it.
In actual fact, accurate gender recognition does not materially affect anyone except people who cannot access it, whom it affects a great deal. [Your party] has an ethical obligation to facilitate trans Queenslanders’ access to accurate gender recognition so that they can enjoy the same freedoms and access the same opportunities to which all Australians have the right.
Should you find yourself unconvinced of the necessity, utility, or desirability of the actions detailed above, I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you at your convenience to discuss it further.
[123 Main Street]
[Anytown], Queensland 4xxx
Phone: 04xx xxx xxx
Australian Human Rights Commission (n.d.). Quick guide: Transgender. Retrieved 9 December 2022.
Bretherton, I., Thrower, E., Zwickl, S., Wong, A., Chetcuti, D., … & Cheung, A.S. (2020, December 9). The health and well-being of transgender Australians: A national community survey. LGBT Health, 8(1), 42–49. doi:10.1089/lgbt.2020.0178. Retrieved 9 December 2022.
Fentiman, S. (2022, October 2). New Bill modernises birth certificates [Media statement]. Queensland Government Department of the Premier and Cabinet. Retrieved 9 December 2022.
Heagney, M. (2022, November 4). ‘It’s going to get worse’: Larger rental crisis looms as vacancies hit record lows. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 9 December 2022.
Healthdirect Australia (2022, June). Gender affirming surgery. Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care. Retrieved 9 December 2022.
Nath, I. (2018, February 8). For transgender women, the pay equity gap is even wider. Maclean’s. Retrieved 9 December 2022.
Pullos Lawyers (n.d.). How do transgender rights in Australia differ from other countries?. Retrieved 9 December 2022.
Queensland Government (2022, July 20). Documents for rental applications. Retrieved 9 December 2022.
Wareham, J. (2021, November 17). Transgender pay gap revealed: Cisgender people paid 32% more. Forbes. Retrieved 9 December 2022.
World Professional Association for Transgender Health (2016, December 21). Position statement on medical necessity of treatment, sex reassignment, and insurance coverage in the U.S.A. Retrieved 9 December 2022.