Transgender people will be considered in WA law reform

Confusion has followed an announcement from Western Australian Attorney General John Quigley that stated the government would look into sections of Western Australian law that require people to get divorced before being recognised as having changed gender.

People who are transgender and want to be formally recognised as either male or female were left bewildered as the AG’s statement only mentioned consideration of people with an intersex condition and those who wished to have no gender recorded on their official documents.

Now the chair of the Law Reform Commission has clarified that their review will consider people who are transgender, identifying as male or female, as well as people who are intersex, and people who wish to have no gender recorded on their official documents.

LGBTI rights activists had asked the AG to remove laws which require people to be single when applying to the state’s Gender Recognition Board.

The laws were designed to stop same sex mariages coming into existence when one member of an opposite sex married couple changed gender, but in the wake of Australia’s landmark decision to allow same sex marriage the requirement has become outdated.

Many people who are transgender have not been able to get their gender change officially recognised because they did not want to end their marriages.

While same sex couples have begun to get married following changes to federal law, people who are transgender are still not able to access formal gender recognition because  the Gender Recognition Board still advises that need to be single first.

Attorney General John Quigley responded to call to address the discrimination by announcing that he would instruct the Law Commission to review the laws as they apply for intersex people and people who want to have no gender recorded on their official documents.

The announcement left people who are transgender bewildered because it omitted any mention of people who are transgender and want their gender recorded as male or female.

Law Reform Commission of Western Australia chair Dr David Cox has moved to clarify the scope of the pending investigation.

Dr Cox said that the terms of reference are “broadly phrased” and the Commission understands them to include consideration of transgender people, as well as those who are intersex, and people who do not identify as either male or female.

“We acknowledge that there is no specific reference to transgender people in the terms of reference, however reassure members of the LGBTIQ community that the terms of reference will require the Commission to consider a broad range of gender-related matters including the concerns of the transgender community,” Dr Cox said.

“The Commission will be releasing a discussion paper in due course for public consultation and I would urge all those who have an interest in these issues to make themselves heard and to be part of the decision-making process going forward.”

The full terms of reference will be available shortly on the Commission’s website

Graeme Watson

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