Francene Jacques, Martine Delaney and Roen Meijers, who all changed their paperwork. Picture: RICHARD JUPE
Francene Jacques, Martine Delaney and Roen Meijers, who all changed their paperwork. Picture: RICHARD JUPE

Transgender activists celebrate historic day

IT was a historic day for Tasmania, say members of the transgender and gender diverse community.

Changes to laws governing gender came into effect yesterday, allowing Tasmanians to amend the gender on their birth certificates without the need for any medical intervention. They are now able to alter their gender or remove it entirely.

Roen Meijers, who identifies as non-binary, was the third Tasmanian to jump at the opportunity.

Roen Meijers leaves the Government offices with the new paperwork. Picture: RICHARD JUPE
Roen Meijers leaves the Government offices with the new paperwork. Picture: RICHARD JUPE

"I actually didn't expect it to be as emotional as it was, it was a very powerful moment," Meijers said after stepping out of Births, Deaths and Marriages where they signed the documents amending their birth certificate."

Meijers said that up until now, there have been everyday struggles in proving their identity.

"Up until now every time I've had to fill out a form or had to argue with the government system," they said.

"I've had to fight to be recognised as who I am and some of the time that just hasn't been possible because I haven't been able to prove that that's who I am.

"But now with my new birth certificate, it'll just be so much easier for me to go through systems, I won't have to argue about it I can just get on with my life like everyone else."

Transforming Tasmania spokeswoman Martine Delaney, who has spent the past 15 years fighting for such changes to legislation, was the first to sign the documents changing her gender since the law came into effect.

Martine Delaney celebrates with supporters. Picture: RICHARD JUPE
Martine Delaney celebrates with supporters. Picture: RICHARD JUPE

"I just wanted to have a cry, it was just such an amazing relief to finally have got to this point," Ms Delaney said.

"I can get on with the rest of my life now and actually have documents, birth certificates, that say 'I am Martine and don't ask me questions'."

Ms Delaney said it was a momentous day.

"It's gigantic on so many levels, for trans and gender diverse people it's just enormous," she said.

The laws amend seven existing Acts, including allowing parents to choose whether gender is registered on their child's birth certificate.

During Question Time yesterday, Premier Will Hodgman expressed "grave concerns with how the legislation was handled" and that the government planned to review it.

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It prompted Greens leader Cassy O'Connor to urge the government to proceed with caution.

"Transgender and intersex Tasmanians are already amongst the most marginalised and discriminated against people in our community,'' she said.

The transgender son of Ms O'Connor, Jasper Lees, said the day brought about a mixture of excitement and relief.

"It's just the completion of my transition that I can now be legally and medically me and I can go and do things as Jasper the male,'' he said.

Mr Lees said he would be visiting Births, Deaths and Marriages today to make the change on his birth certificate.

But Attorney-General Elise Archer said the amendments were "rammed" through Parliament by Labor and the Greens.

"We'll be monitoring the laws because as everyone knows the laws were not part of the Hodgman government's law reform agenda", she said.

The Tasmanian Coalition for Kids said the laws will have a number of "major unintended consequences".

"This has serious flow-on consequences, for example how will organisations who operate single sex schools, including the Government themselves (for example, New Town and Ogilvie High Schools), manage this change? What about the preferences of parents who choose these schools for their children?

"There are also serious implications of this change for women's health and sport."

"I ask the Government to urgently outline when they plan to repeal these radical laws."