Daniel Andrews’s Labor Government may think that it has scored a personal best with its new transgender birth certificate law. But in reality it’s just another distressing example of transphobic heteronormative virtue-signalling.
The Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Amendment Bill 2019 was introduced into Parliament this week. Its changes will allow applicants to self-nominate the sex listed in their birth registration as male, female, or any other gender diverse or non-binary descriptor of their own choice.
No “gender-affirmation surgery” required. No intrusive personal examination by doctors. Just “I’d like a change of gender, please.”
Any gender: “male, female, or any other gender diverse or non-binary descriptor of their own choice”.
So far, just your average trans-affirming legislation, like Western Australia, the Australian Capital Territory, South Australia, the Northern Territory and Tasmania.
But the Victorian legislation has a provision which may be unique: it allows you to change your gender once every 12 months. Section 30A (1) specifies that a person over 18 may apply to alter the record of sex on the birth certificate if “the record of the person's sex has not been altered within the 12 months preceding the date of making the application”.
Presumably the Andrews Government thinks that it is burnishing its “progressive” credentials with this concession. But the reality is that you are compelled to live as your chosen gender for at least a whole year.
At least this puts Victoria miles ahead of Britain. According to the UK’s Gender Recognition Act 2004, you must state that “you intend to live in your acquired gender for the rest of your life”. In Victoria, on the other hand, you could experience all of Facebook’s 71 gender options if you started at 18 and lived to be 90.
But Victoria’s smug self-congratulatory progressiveness needs to be exposed for what it is: an egregious example of transphobic administrative violence. The bill ignores the reality of gender-fluidity.
Here’s Leah Juliett, an American non-binary, queer, anti-revenge-porn activist, on the lived experience of gender fluidity: “I see gender as a solar system; it’s so vast and wide with so many options that you can’t really contain it to a small binary scale. Some days, I may feel more male; some days, more female; and some days, I may feel completely neutral and existing in that grey area.”
Attorney-General Jill Hennessy says, “Everyone deserves to live their life as they choose, and that includes having a birth certificate that reflects their true identity.” Why, then, does the bill insist that you have to stay imprisoned in a gender which has passed its use-by date for 12 long agonizing months? Think about it. That's 52 weeks, 365 days, 525,600 minutes. This is just virtue-signalling on Hennessy’s part.
What if Leah Juliett wakes up on Wednesday and feels like being pangender or two-spirit? Why can’t Leah (I haven’t been advised of Leah’s preferred gender pronoun) reach for Leah’s mobile and change Leah’s birth certificate on an app created by the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages?
Why should Leah have to wait until Leah is 90 to experience all of those Facebook options? If a birth certificate could be changed every month, only six years would be needed.
There is a “basic human right to self-identify”, according to Simona Castricum, a trans activist who commented on the Victorian bill in The Guardian.
So true. And if self-identification is a basic human right, you should be able to change your gender as often as you like, whenever you like, Mr Andrews. Not just every 12 months.
Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet.