Transgender and gender-diverse people in Victoria will not be allowed to change the sex on their birth certificate without having to undergo reassignment surgery, after a history-making reform was passed on parliament overnight. The Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Amendment Bill introduced by the state government passed 26-14 in the Victorian upper house and will now go to the Governor for royal assent.
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The bill will allow transgender people to self-nominate their sex as male, female or many other non-binary descriptors of their choosing. Children will also be able to alter the gender on their birth certificate, provided they have parental support and a statement from a doctor or registered psychologist stating that the decision is in the child’s best interests.
Victoria has become the fifth state in Australia to adopt the reform, bringing it in line with Tasmania, Northern Territory, South Australia and the ACT.
The government has argued that the law that requires a trans person to have sex affirmation surgery before changing their birth certificate should be scrapped because some people cannot, or do not want to go through an expensive and invasive medical procedure.
"These important new laws are about ensuring everyone can live their life as they choose, and that includes having a birth certificate that reflects their true identity," Attorney-General Jill Hennessy said. "The current surgery requirement sends a painful and false message that there is something wrong with being trans or gender diverse that needs to be ‘fixed’ – that’s why we’re removing this cruel and unfair barrier."
Greens leader Samantha Ratnam also welcomed the reform. "A momentous night as birth certificate reforms pass the upper house of Vic Parliament," she wrote on Twitter.
"Some powerful and passionate speeches helped increase the majority to 26:14 in final vote. My love to our trans and gender diverse communities who have fought for so long for this."
Advocacy groups including Equality Australia, Transgender Victoria and Ygender, which have been campaigning for the bill to be passed, also celebrated on social media using the hashtag #MyIDMyIdentity.