WRITTEN BY // Cec Busby
A transgender man is taking his fight for legal recognition to the United Nations Human Rights Committee following the Victorian government's decision to invalidate his marriage.
At the time of his marriage Page Phoenix used his Australian passport, which identifies him as a male to apply for his marriage licence. But upon a cross check with Victorian Birth Deaths and Marriages, Phoenix's licence was declared invalid as the gender on his passport did not match that of his birth certificate which reflected his birth sex as female.
While Federal law now gives Australians the ability to change their sex on travel documents, most states have not made the same progress which means many Australians live with inconsistent documentation.
Currently Victoria requires gender reassignment surgery before changing details within Births, Deaths and Marriages, an option not wanted nor available to Phoenix due to a serious medical condition. This is no longer a requirement with the Australian Passports Office.
Phoenix is taking his argument to the UN, saying a person should not have to undertake irreversible invasive surgery in order to change their gender on a government form.
Phoenix suggests such a request is a fundamental violation of human rights.
Anna Brown, director of advocacy and strategc litigation at Human Rights Law Centre agrees, telling The Age, ''You don't buy an airline ticket and fill out whether you're of south-east Asian descent or Anglo-Saxon, so why does an airline or a bank need to know whether you're male or female?
''For a transgender person, even filling out the most basic form can be difficult and distressing, so reform to identity documents would make a huge practical difference to their day-to-day lives and it would also pave the way to reducing discrimination, stigma and social exclusion.''
Deputy Director of Australian Marriage Equality, Ivan Hinton, described the dissolution of Phoenix's marriage as devastating and suggested it was idiotic that states were ignoring federal documents to uphold a federal law.
"It is devastating that a State law can intervene to effectively terminate a loving marriage. Marriage is the union of two people who have chosen to build a life together based on love, commitment, respect and hope for a future. It isn't about gender," Hinton said.
"It is ridiculous that a state institution ignores Federal documents that recognise the opposite sexes of this couple while attempting to enforce Federal marriage laws, currently opposed to same-sex couples marrying."