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Gender identity law reform proposed in Canberra

Proposals draw mixed response from transgender and intersex groups
Filmmaker Phoebe Hart made the movie Orchids about the intersex experience in Australia

A report published on Monday proposes changes to the law affecting gender identity in the Australia Capital Territory (ACT).

The recommendations include:

  • a transgender person should not have to go through sex assignment surgery to change their official gender
  • ‘intersex’ should be an option on birth certificates
  • the current 60 days required to register the sex of a child should be extended to 180 days
  • all public sector authorities should allow the options female, male, intersex and none of the above, when required to determine someone’s sex

The proposals also said that the government should invest in programs of education about sex and gender diversity for the public sector.

Peter Hyndal from sex and gender diverse support group A Gender Agenda told Canberra Times:

‘It’s been a really, really long time since the issue was flagged and it would be nice to see the government move quickly. The surgical requirement as it stands is clearly a complete contravention of the human rights of sex and gender diverse people in the ACT.’

However, the proposals relating to intersex people were not so well-recieved by the community.

The Organisation Intersex International Australia (OII Australia) released a statement saying that they are opposed to the proposal that an ‘intersex’ option should be available on birth certificates. The statement reads:

‘OII Australia rejects the notion of a third sex, and we vehemently oppose the creation of any category called "intersex" to which we are automatically assigned. We have no idea how education and other services will deal with this, and we have no desire for intersex infants to be guinea pigs.’

The statement continues that OII believe there should be just one option for classifying gender, not two or three.

‘Where this remains not possible,’ the statement reads. ‘We propose that it is sufficient for infants, at birth, to be assigned as “not specified”. This category should also be available on request to any adult who chooses it.’

Australia's first openly intersex mayor and representative of Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome Support Group Australia (AISSGA), Tony Briffa agrees that the term 'intersex' should not be put on children's birth certificates but he doesn't have a problem with the intersex category, provided it's only used for adults who 'request it and can prove they are intersex.'

The report, Beyond the Binary: legal recognition of sex and gender diversity in the ACT, was the result of a year-long inquiry that was commissioned by the state’s Attorney-General .

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