Tasmanians like Roen are celebrating a gender law milestone today


Updated

September 05, 2019 10:45:41

Roen Meijers went on leave from work three weeks ago to have what they describe as gender-affirming surgery.

Key points:

  • Legislation allowing people to legally change their gender without surgery comes into effect today
  • The laws also allow parents to choose whether their child’s gender is displayed on their birth certificate
  • Four Tasmanians have booked to visit Births, Deaths and Marriages to change their gender today, but the Premier has foreshadowed a review of the laws

When the Hobart disability advocate walks back into the office tomorrow, they will be legally recognised as non-binary.

Controversial new laws allowing people to amend the gender on their birth certificate without reassignment surgery come into effect today, and Roen is one of four Tasmanians booked to visit Births, Deaths and Marriages to register a change.

“My life until now has been having to say I’m something I’m not or having to argue endlessly with systems to prove that I am who I am,” Roen said.

“I’m really looking forward to not having to do that any more.”

Roen said identifying as non-binary meant something different to everyone. But for Roen it was the easiest way to say they were neither male nor female.

“For me, it means personally that if you look at a spectrum of male on one end and female on the other, I’m more on the male-ish end but I’m also not a man,” they said.

Liberal Speaker Sue Hickey teamed up with Labor and the Greens to pass the Marriage Amendments Bill earlier this year.

The legislation will also allow parents to choose whether their child’s gender is displayed on their birth certificate, let people aged 16 years and older apply to change their registered gender without parental approval, and clarify laws to protect the right of an individual to express their gender without discrimination.

The laws first passed the Lower House late last year before facing lengthy amendments in the Upper House. They were opposed by the Liberal Government throughout the debate.

Attorney-General Elise Archer this year took the rare step of releasing advice from the Solicitor-General warning of potential unintended consequences caused by interactions with other laws — and Premier Will Hodgman yesterday warned the Government had planned a review of the operation of the legislation.

“The legislation was brought into our parliament in a clumsy, ill-considered way against the advice from legal experts about the potential risks of doing so, but Labor and the Greens joined together and did it anyway,” Mr Hodgman said.

‘Laws will transform lives’

Greens leader Cassy O’Connor — who introduced the legislation with Labor’s shadow attorney-general Ella Haddad — said Tasmania should be proud that it had led the nation in allowing gender to be optional on birth certificates.

“It is our sincerest hope this will be the end of the nasty disinformation campaign propagated by extreme groups and members of the Hodgman Government,” she said in a statement.

“These laws will transform the lives of many transgender and non-binary Tasmanians. The 97-98 per cent of Tasmanians for whom they don’t apply to are unlikely to even notice.”

Transgender advocate Martine Delaney fought for 15 years to have the changes introduced.

She is also booked to legally amend her birth certificate.

“I am incredibly excited, not just for myself but for all trans and gender-diverse Tasmanians that this is finally reality,” the Hobart woman said.

“I think the people who were spreading the misinformation and attempting to make it a scenario of ‘unforeseen consequences’ should understand that really this is just a small, life-affirming change for a small number of people and it’s not going to change life for anyone else.”

Roen hopes to become an example to Tasmanian children and teens who feel they too are neither male nor female.

“[Changing my birth certificate] is validation, I guess, that who I am is real and acceptable and OK, but more than that it’s also visibility,” Roen said.

“I’m choosing to have non-binary on my birth certificate so everyone can see, so maybe young people growing up will grow up in a society where there are other visible non-binary people and they know from the start that that’s an option.”

Topics:

sexuality,

community-and-society,

states-and-territories,

government-and-politics,

marriage,

family-and-children,

tas,

hobart-7000,

launceston-7250

First posted

September 05, 2019 06:23:56



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