Tasmania Law Reform Institute report highlights positive outcomes of gender reform

The Tasmanian Law Reform Institute (TLRI) has found that the state’s 2019 gender identity reform laws do not create any significant unintended consequences for Tasmania’s justice system.

The first of its kind in Australia, Tasmania’s Marriage and Gender Amendments Act overhauled state law, removing the obligation for parents to record sex on a birth certificate (rather a separate public register), allowed Tasmanians to affirm their gender without seeking surgery and provides diverse options for gender descriptors on legal documents.

After the bill passed last year, Tasmania’s Attorney General asked the TLRI to consider any potential unintended legal consequences. TLRI researcher Dylan Richards led wide-ranging research on the issue, including public and stakeholder consultations, and gave the changes the all clear.

Richards said the Marriage and Gender Amendments Act mainly affects transgender and non-binary members of the community, and generally makes their lives easier when it comes to accessing services.

“These benefits have not come at a cost for most other Tasmanians,” Richards said.

“We hope the report will provide clarity for other Australian states that are considering following Tasmania’s lead towards law that supports human rights for diverse gender identities.”

As part of the research, TLRI sought input on rules relating to consent, authorisation and the impact of medical procedures on young people.

Among the findings of the report, TLRI recommends enacting new laws that establish clear rules about when a person can consent to medical treatment, criminalising non-consensual surgeries, and making it easier for intersex people to obtain compensation for harms suffered as a result of non-consensual treatment.

“We found that surgical interventions on intersex children can have significant longterm consequences that last into adulthood,” Mr Richards said.

“Given the ongoing concern from the intersex community about this kind of surgery, we recommend stronger, clearer guidance around consent to medical treatment.”

Mr Richards also emphasised the importance of protecting the rights and interests of transgender young people.

“We heard from young transgender adults about the distress caused by lengthy delays before receiving medical treatment, or conflicting advice they received from doctors,” he said.

“Members of the transgender community will also benefit from improved clarity around consent to medical treatment.”

The review was funded through the Solicitor’s Guarantee Fund with support from the Tasmanian Government Department of Justice, the University of Tasmania and the Law Society of Tasmania.

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