Law Reform Commission proposes changes to sex & gender laws

The WA Law Reform Commission has released a discussion paper exploring an extensive review of the state’s legislation regarding recognition of a person’s sex, gender and intersex status.

The review follows a successful motion at last year’s state Labor conference to axe the Gender Reassignment Board.

At present, Western Australians must apply to the Gender Reassignment Board to have their gender affirmed on official documentation such as a driver’s licence.

The current process requires an applicant to provide a letter from a medical practitioner who has carried our a reassignment procedure – be that hormone therapy or surgery – as well as a letter from a psychiatrist, psychologist or other counsellor, among other documents.

The WA Law Reform Commission’s discussion paper proposes a number of alternatives to this process, as well as key considerations as to why the process should change.

“In a joint submission to the [Australian Human Rights] Commission, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) and Australian and New Zealand Professional Association for Transgender Health (ANZPATH) stated that medical and other barriers to gender recognition may harm the physical and mental health of trans individuals,” the paper reads.

“WPATH’s view is that gender recognition can have an important influence on the health and wellbeing of all people, and that it is particularly important for transgender people to have their gender identity recognised on key identity documentation; regardless of what gender affirming healthcare they have accessed, or what their demographics may be.”

The recommendations include removing the requirement for a person to have undertaken a medical procedure to have their gender recognised, allowing people over 12 able to apply for a certificate to affirm their gender (with parental permission), and allowing for a non-binary “X” gender marker on documentation.

Under current laws, intersex children are also being assigned a gender by their parents before they reach 60 days of age. These proposed changes would no longer require a sex to be registered on a child’s birth certificate, in line with concerns raised by the intersex community.

Speaking to PerthNow, commission chair Dr David Cox said the wider community has no need to oppose the review’s suggested legislative changes.

“For the vast majority of the population it’s not going to make one iota of difference … it’s not going to affect the fabric of the government, it’s not going to affect the fabric of society, it’s not doing anything really but it’s going to make life a lot easier for a small group of people,” Dr Cox said.

Dr Cox adds that the commission’s recommendations for minors were grounded in the principle of self-determination.

“Under this model, a minor’s sense of their own gender is the only requirement for an application to the registrar to, in effect, change the gender on their Gender Identity Certificate.”

The WA Law Reform Commission are still accepting submissions on this review until October 19th, which they are set to submit to Attorney General John Quigley in November.

Submissions can be made to [email protected]

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