Tuesday 20 July 2010

A Letter to the Attorney General

Not from me. From Kathy Noble, of Changeling Aspects, which concisely deals with the issues I (and others) face in Australian Law.

Open letter, to the Australian Human Rights Commission, and the Federal Attorney-General.


Can someone please answer this conundrum?

Is the Trans community really that complicated, or is it the fact that we have to wade through nine Governments, legislation?

The thought is that it is the nine governments and their departments and agencies that have made amending documentation so complex.

Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual (GLB)

84 areas of concern were identified concerning the GLB communities in 2008
84 areas of concern were corrected in the “Same Sex Act July 2009”


Submissions called for in May 2008 as there was a six month window at AHRC
15 recommendations made in the “Sex Files Report” launched on 17-03-2009
None of these recommendations have been implemented by July 2010
What does this say about the approach to laws concerning Trans people?
How can 15 areas of concern, take longer than 84 areas of concern?
I understand that SCAG and COAG are talking about these concerns
I understand that Victoria would like to implement them.

How can 15 recommendations take longer to come into legislation, than 84 areas of concern? I believe this proves the utter complexity imposed on the Trans community by 9 Governments, their departments and agencies only goes to show the lack of understanding and empathy regarding our problems. It also highlights the total lack of consistency, but certainly highlights the amount of inconsistencies that do exist when dealing with the Trans community.

Is it understood the amount of pressure, frustration and depression this causes to Trans people, who find it hard to understand what exactly is required of them, in order to amend their documentation. Staying married after Sex Affirmation Surgery is a pain in the butt, as you cannot amend your birth certificate, but you can amend your passport. Is it understood the cost to the Health system that this incurs due to health problems

Those born off shore are in a dilemma as to what they can and can’t do, according to which jurisdiction they reside in. Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) will accept amendment to residency status and Citizenship records either before or after surgery. Detail from Immigration Freedom of Information section is picked up by Citizenship to aid us to amend our citizenship. These details are also accessed by Passport Office, so it is feasible that someone born off shore can amend their passport before undergoing surgery. This leaves those born in Australia in a very different situation, as they have to undergo surgery in order to amend their passport. Inconsistency on inconsistency!

Also for those born off shore is the inconsistency surrounding “Recognition Certificates/ Recognised Details Certificates. If you live in South Australia, Western Australia, Victoria or New South Wales, then you are fortunate in being able to obtain these certificates recognising you in your new sex/gender. These are then acceptable to Countries such as the UK in order to amend your birth certificate in that Country. It also means that we do not have to send to the UK under their Case by Case Basis, in order to receive our Gender Recognition Certificate. The original intent was that we would have to return to the UK for the two inspections. So those who do not have access to the certificates from the 4 States that offer them, because they live in Tasmania, Queensland, The ACT or The Northern Territory are discriminated against. However, if they moved to any of the 4 States that do offer these certificates and reside there for 12 months; they could then apply and receive a certificate, if they meet the requirements according to those certificates. Anomalies/inconsistencies, how are we supposed to understand all of these requirements?

You have to change your name in the jurisdiction you were born in, if born in Australia, but can change your driver’s licence in the jurisdiction that you reside in. If born off shore, then you can change both documents in the jurisdiction you reside in. More anomalies!

In order for a more equitable approach, could we not start by having all laws pertaining to Trans people made by the Federal Government and implemented by the States and Territories as Agents for those laws, such as the Marriage Act 1961. However, we do not want a repeat of the current situation, where the Marriage Act 1961 can be over ruled at State and Territory Level as is the current practice.

On the one hand we have the federal Government stating that a marriage once solemnised, remains so, even if later one of the spouses becomes transsexual. This is recognised by Passport Office and they issue an amended passport. The States and Territories over ride this by requiring (Forcing) us to divorce in order to amend our birth certificate. Huge anomaly and inconsistency!

The requirement to divorce is now considered unconstitutional in many Countries.

Yours Sincerely, Kathy Anne Noble.
President, Changeling Aspects
© Changeling Aspects
My own case exemplifies a full house of these inconsistencies - plus other anomalies caused by my Intersex status.

I was born overseas - so was able to change my name in the ACT (Australian Capital Territory) where I reside, rather than having to do so interstate. Additionally, I was able to change my citizenship certificate without providing evidence of sex reassignment. A good job, as my genital reconstruction doesn't qualify, my medical records have had me as female since August 2005, long before surgery. And that's another anomaly, trans people need to have had surgery in order to get their medical records changed. As far as the government is concerned, they have no idea what medical procedures I may or may not have had, they're irrelevant.

I'm also married. So even if I lived in a state that provided recognition certificates, I couldn't get one. Our relationship has not irretrievably broken down, so we couldn't divorce even if we wanted to!

By the way... Kathy is another case of feminisation from natural causes - in her case, from massive over-production of prolactin, caused by a damaged pituitary gland. And, like me, the change was most welcome. Unlike me, the cause is well-understood, and took years rather than weeks.

There's more of us than most people realise.

And now we face a possible change of government, and perhaps back to square one. *SIGH*

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In the UK we have just had a change of government apparently committed to addressing the trans-related inequalities. Alas, they will be entering a phase of study and research and may report a way forward by the end of next year. As in Aus, the problems are known as are the solutions.

Frustrating isn't it!

Paula (Angry from Surrey)