Transgender Australians visited the not for profit Inner City Legal Centre (ICLC) in Sydney last week for specialized legal help.
Advice ranged from applications to change names, advice about accessing bathrooms, and an Apprehended Violence Order, according to center director, Vicki Harding.
She said the pilot scheme went ‘really well’. ‘We anticipated these issues would be important to transgender people’, she said.
The Kings Cross-based service partnered with multinational law firm, Dentons, to provide assistance each Monday afternoon.
One client, Carol, said the staff were ‘great, respectful and did their best to help with name change processes’.
Can recommend this, I was there on Monday and the staff were great, respectful and did their best to help with name change processes even though, because I was born in QLD, I eventually had to do things online. The person I saw went through with me what I needed to do. https://t.co/DY8kG7vheK
— Carol (@nowimcarol) September 12, 2018
Transgender people can face discrimination in employment, education, and accessing goods and services’, explained Harding. They experience vilification at markedly higher rates than the rest of the population, including LGB, she said.
In theory, state and federal anti-discrimination legislation should protect transgender Australians at work and elsewhere.
But, this marginalization and difficulty accessing healthcare can lead to issues that make transgender Australians disproportionally likely to end up in court.
Furthermore, aside from three states, transgender Australians cannot change their sex on identification documents without reassignment surgery. This can lead to everyday difficulties.
ICLC has provided free advice to vulnerable people for almost 30 years. It has also long been recognised as an award-winning statewide practice that specialises in LGBTIQ matters.
Likewise, Dentons have provided nine volunteer lawyers who are now being trained and shadowing our solicitors. The firm is also helping with fundraising.
Harding said comments on the transgender community by Prime Minister Scott Morrison certainly caused an impact.
‘In recent weeks we have witnessed significant distress from the transgender community on social media, including parents of transgender children’. ICLC continues to advocate for more rights and protections for the minority.
Harding hopes to officially launch the service in November. The event will take place in the week of Transgender Day of Remembrance.
In the meantime, the team will continue to see clients. ‘Next week we have a client who wants to speak to us about playing sport without having to maintain unhealthy androgen levels as a prerequisite to compete’, said Harding.
‘Although we thought discrimination would be on the agenda, we didn’t see this particular issue coming’.