WA’s Gender Reassignment Board halts work due to resignation

Western Australia’s Gender Reassignment Board has stopped accessing applications for gender change because the President of the board tendered his resignation.

The board’s long serving President, barrister and part-time magistrate Patrick Hogan, quit his position on 12th September and since then the board has been unable to meet.

A spokesperson for Attorney General John Quigley told OUTinPerth that the process to appoint a new President to the Gender Reassignment Board is “well advanced”.

Currently there are 26 applications before the board that have been left in limbo.

Advocacy group TransFolk of WA said they were very disappointed to learn that the work of the board had been indefinitely delayed.

TransFolk of WA Chairperson, Hunter Gurevich, said the Trans and Gender-diverse community needed certainty, and that it is time for the Board to be abolished.

“Until we see the new Equal Opportunity Act, which the Government has slated for introduction into parliament by the first half of next year, it remains legal to discriminate against trans and gender-diverse folks without a certificate from the GRB.

“However, it also means that trans and gender-diverse folks from WA cannot affirm their genders in the legal sense.

“We know that trans and gender-diverse folks who have the ability to affirm their genders thrive.

“The board was established under the Gender Reassignment Act 2000 (WA) to determine applications. It is not currently fulfilling its purpose. Instead, it denies trans and gender diverse people access to services that are potentially life changing.” Gurevich said.

Transfolk of WA say the board needs to be dissolved, and the legislation replaced.

“With the introduction of self ID laws in Queensland this week, WA will be the sole remaining jurisdiction with the most archaic laws in the country. We want to see WA moved to similar jurisdictions like Victoria which allow self-ID and X markers.

“In the interim, we call on the Attorney-General, Minister Quigley, to provide the community with certainty about when the current process will begin moving again.

“In the long term, we invite the Minister and the WA Government to consult with us and other LGBTQIA+ stakeholders on birth certificate and gender recognition reform.” Gurevich said.

The recent review of the Western Australia’s Equal Opportunity Act highlighted the need for the existence of the Gender Reassignment Board to be reviewed. The board considers around 60 applications each year.

The Labor party committed to abolishing the body at its state conference in 2017, but despite being in government for almost five years has yet to take any action on the matter.

In his annual reports to the government the former President of the Board has regularly highlighted that the former Liberal government had also introduced legislation to abolish the board in 2015.

Last week in Parliament Green MLC Brad Pettit asked if the government had a timeline for introducing reforms to the Equal Opportunity Act and abolishing the Gender Reassignment Board. He was told the issue is before cabinet and is still under consideration.

The High Court ruled in 2011 that the board could not insist that people had surgery in order for them to be able to change their gender identification.

Graeme Watson

7-12-2022 11:30 Readers have contacted OUTinPerth voicing concern that we failed to acknowledge and credit that local online radio station Youth Jam for breaking this story.

We were unaware of Youth Jam’s reporting on this story. The OUTinPerth team had developed our story after being alerted to the situation by transgender rights advocates, and made inquiries to the Attorney General’s Office prior to Youth Jam publishing their story. Both reports were developed simultaneously, but completely independent to each other. We have spoken to Youth Jam and confirmed this. 

We think the team at Youth Jam are awesome, and encourage everyone to tune in to their broadcasts.    

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