At our board meeting on 10 November we agreed a slight revision to our policy on personal identification documents, to support more opt in choices.
While sex or gender markers are still required, we believe that adults and consenting minors should be free to choose, and children should be protected from harm.
Ideally, we would prefer that records of sex or gender were not required, just as records stating ethnic or racial origins, or sexual orientation, are not required – yet those identities and categories still exist.
Just as our society resists the inclusion of those identities and categories on birth certificates, we resist the creation of a third sex category for children where anatomical or genetic differences of sex are the required qualification and where only intersex people qualify.
Adults and consenting minors should be free to choose Female, Male and Unspecified categories. These are represented on passports by F, M and X markers. Adults should also be free to choose multiple markers; we have members who are both male and female, according to both their biology and identity.
While adults should have their gender identity recognised, children should continue to receive a male or female classification, without medical intervention, on the understanding that their sex classification can easily change.
Recognition of a person’s sex and their gender identity is fundamental to their dignity.
Intersex is not a gender identity. It is a broad spectrum of biological variations, of possibly around 40 different entities; it is not a neat third box and nor should it be squeezed into one.
Intersex people have just as diverse a range of gender identities as non-intersex people. Most intersex children will turn out to be broadly more comfortable with male or female identities. A third box for children will not provide a more accurate classification.
Children should not be forced to live with the possible consequences of new classifications. They and their families should not be placed into an even more vulnerable situation, forced to disclose their status or stigmatised for their difference. Parents must not be made uncomfortable with their child’s legal status or visibility, as well as their body. Parents should never be put into a position of choosing medical intervention to avoid classification. Intersex children have other, far more pressing, needs.
We resist new classifications of sex or gender that are imposed without the consent of those classified.
How this differs from our previous policy
Previously, we had no policy on multiple options, for example, both F and M options on a birth certificate.
Full briefing paper
- Download the briefing paper, NSW Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages v. Norrie (PDF, 428 KB)
- Briefing paper on Intersex people and identification documents (PDF, 461 KB)
- OII Australia article on the new German law, 20 August 2013
- OII Australia: Open birth sex assignments do not reduce surgical interventions, 4 November 2013
- OII Australia: We welcome new federal guidelines on sex and gender recognition, 13 June 2013
- OII Australia: Third sex, redux, 14 June 2013
- OII Australia: Response to the ACT government on ‘Beyond the Binary’, 4 April 2013
- OII Australia: Our response to the ACT law reform report “Beyond the Binary”, 9 July 2012
- ABC News (US) on the new German legislation
- BBC News on the new German legislation
- Deutsche Welle on the new German legislation (in English)
- Hida Vilora in the Advocate, 6 November 2013, “Op-ed: Germany’s Third-Gender Law Fails on Equality
- The Norrie case, of a non-intersex person seeking a non-specific birth certificate