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Australia: Trans people unite to change their IDs together

Australia: Trans people unite to change their IDs together

three people smiling in a selfie

Every time Hank, a young trans person, tried to change his gender and name on official documents he found it too ‘overwhelming’.

But at a unique mass ‘Change ID’ event in the southern Australian town of Melbourne that all changed for Hank.

Trans people who for one reason or another had struggled to get their gender or names updated on their official documents, came together to do so at the event.

Staff at Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM) were kept very busy on Wednesday (13 May).

‘I wanted to come and speak to someone face to face, because every time I open the website to do it online I get overwhelmed and want to hide under my couch,’ Hank said at the Change ID event.

‘I thought coming here would put me in the space where you wouldn’t have a chance to back out.’

Trans advocacy group Transgender Victoria (TGV) hosted the event. TGV brought together major departments to remove the anxiety for trans people.

Staff from BDM, VicRoads (for drivers licences), the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Department of Human Services and Justices of the Peace were in attendance to facilitate the changes.

‘I personally have had terrible experiences changing my ID at Centrelink and other places, plus it’s a horrible thing to have to go through again and again,’ said TGV’s event manager, Theodore Murray.

‘But the event was a huge success in terms of everyone felt really comfortable and everyone was really well supported.

‘Births, Deaths and Marriages were so busy the whole time. They changed 11 birth certificates in total which is a lot for a day at the BDM office.’

Welcoming and affirming

Other trans people at the event said it was really important they felt affirmed and welcomed in the space.

‘It’s been pretty easy to navigate… I was worried it would be a lot more complicated,’ Marco said.

‘It’s really cool being around more transgender people. I’m out in the country so it’s not often I can be around like minded people and feel open and comfortable.’

The day also offered practical assistance for trans people. One person described how they had needed help paying for their document change.

‘One of the reasons you keep putting it off is that you open the form and you think, “maybe I can put up with this for a little bit longer, maybe I need that $100 more than I need to change my name”,’ they said.

‘There were people here that asked “are you in financial distress, do you need help to pay for this?” and that was so amazing.’