Tasmania looks set to become the first Australian state to stop documenting a child’s sex on birth certificates, in a move that has attracted strong opinions on both sides of the fence.
According to The Australian the state’s lower house is expected to vote on the matter next month, when it is raised in parliament as an amendment to a bill calling for trans people to no longer have to divorce before they can change their gender on official documents.
If passed, it would be the first time any Australian authority has removed the need to state a baby’s gender on their official birth certificate, however their gender would still be recorded by the registrar and on all medical records.
Transgender activist Martine Delaney told the newspaper that removing gender from birth certificates would cause no harm. She said: “It would be the first in this country, although not the first in the world, and an excellent statement by Tasmania to say ‘We have the need to do this and we will not wait for other states to lead’.
“It is not doing away with gender. That information would still be recorded by the registrar and medical records in the hospital. It just simply wouldn’t be displayed on the birth certificate.”
Many people were also in favour of the proposed change and took to social media to air their support. One person tweeted: “Gay marriage legalised last December – abortion made legal in the state of Queensland last week – the state of Tasmania on the verge of abolishing gender from state birth certificates – things are looking up in Aus.”
While another wrote: “Tasmania is set to become the first state to remove the sex of a child from birth certificates, in a major win for transgender people.”
However, the potential move has also come under fire from critics who have described it as “abolishing gender”, with the Liberal government, Christian groups and feminists claiming the intention of the original bill has been hijacked by the transgender lobby, after the Greens and Labor introduced a series of amendments.
One Nation senate candidate Stephen Dickson said of the vote: “Today there’s a push to have gender removed from birth certificates in Tasmania. Is this the peak of PC stupidity?” Another critic wrote: “Majority of people are born male or female (less than 1% are born intersex). The birth certificate should reflect that. It’s got nothing to do with equality. It’s a fact of life.
One critic said: “Tasmania is set to become the first state to ignore the fundamental truth that all life is divided into two genders: male and female. It matters little if this suits your deluded beliefs or not. There is just no getting round facts.”
While the move, if successful, would be a first in this country, other governments around the world have already made changes to the way they establish gender on birth certificates, including Germany which passed laws last year allowing parents to select a third, gender-neutral option, rather than just male or female.
The debate also comes two years after the ACT abolished gender specific terms for parents on birth certificates. The laws, passed in February 2016, allow parents to use the terms ‘mother’ and ‘father’ interchangeably. They were also given the option to select ‘parent 1’ and ‘parent 2’.