Transgenders won't have to divorce partners under new law

Posted in News

Lucy Carroll

Health Reporter

Laws that force transgender people to divorce their spouse if they want their sex-change legally recognised may be abolished under a bill to be introduced to NSW Parliament.

State law requires people who have a gender transition to split from their partners before they can be issued with an updated birth certificate.

Independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich and NSW Greens spokeswoman Mehreen Faruqi will give notice to introduce the private member's bill on Tuesday to change the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act so transgenders can have their gender changed on their birth certificates without them having to divorce their partners.

''This bill allows loving and committed couples to stay together,'' Mr Greenwich said. ''As the debate with marriage equality continues, this is something that state governments can do to ensure trans people are protected. There are a number of members in our Parliament who are strong advocates for marriage and this is about keeping these marriages together.''

He said not having a person's gender converted on a birth certificate can cause ''serious issues'' with employment checks.

Transgender people say the bill will end the discrimination and embarrassment caused by them having to disclose publicly their former identities.

Elisabeth White, who began the transition from man to woman in 2010, says the current law puts her in the awkward and humiliating position of being forced to disclose her former gender when applying for a job.

''There's a choice,'' says the 45-year-old nurse who has been married to Lisa for 22 years. ''You either deal with discrimination or you divorce.''

Ms White, who grew up in an evangelical Christian home in Sydney but now lives in Melbourne with her wife and four children, does not want to divorce her partner who supported her during gender reassignment surgery in 2012.

''If I apply for a job as a nurse in a hospital or in aged care, I am subject to police checks and employers need my birth certificate. Because of that, I have to be upfront that I used to be known as Scott White.''

Even worse, she says, is having her gender marked as ''other'' on her records at Monash University, where she is studying. ''There are still parts of my old self hanging around, and one of those is my gender marker. I'm forced into a position where I have to disclose it whether I like it or not.''

Ms White says she has been able to update her gender on her driver's licence and Medicare card, but some places still require her birth certificate as a key piece of identity.

Mr Greenwich says while couples are married under federal marriage law, once a person transitions, state law restricts their gender being updated on their birth certificates.

Mission

Transgender Victoria (TGV) was founded in the late 1990s to achieve justice, equity and quality health and community service provision for trans and gender diverse (TGD) people, their partners, families and friends.

TGV uses TGD to refer to people whose gender identity or expression is different from that which was assigned at birth or that which is expected of them by society.

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About TGV

Transgender Victoria (TGV) work with and for, the trans and gender diverse (TGD) community as well as its allies, to create positive change in areas that impact the human rights of TGD people. 

TGV represents the TGD community in challenging discrimination and assists to empower TGD people so that they may lead full and meaningful lives.

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