Birth certificate reform in South Australia

South Australia (image source: Wikipedia)In November 2016, a diverse group of people with intersex variations participated in a parliamentary briefing, including intersex women, intersex men and people with other gender identities, talking about the issues that concerned us: of isolation, unnecessary medicalisation, and lack of bodily autonomy.

In March 2017, more than twenty current and future leaders of the Australian and New Zealand intersex human rights movement met and agreed the Darlington Statement, including the following paragraph:

4. That the word ‘intersex’, and the intersex human rights movement, belong equally to all people born with variations of sex characteristics, irrespective of our gender identities, genders, legal sex classifications and sexual orientations.

Following the publication of the Statement, OII Australia made a swift submission to the South Australian government on reform of its birth certificate legislation. Tony Briffa also led our participation in a joint submission, led by the Human Rights Law Centre with participation from the National LGBTI Health Alliance, South Australian Rainbow Advocacy Alliance, GendaSA, FTMen-SA, Mental Illness Fellowship SA, and SHine SA.

The submissions both called for recognition of the diversity of bodies and identities of people with intersex variations in South Australia.

Unfortunately, the South Australian government appears to have ignored both submissions, and chosen a measure including a classification termed “non-binary” that is acceptable, but also a classification termed “intersex/indeterminate/unspecified” that misgenders the majority of intersex people.

This means that OII Australia does not welcome or support the guidelines as proposed in South Australia.

In 2015, OII Australia joined with the National LGBTI Health Alliance, A Gender Agenda, Transformative and Transgender Victoria to agree a joint submission to the federal Attorney General’s Department on non-binary recognition in the federal sex and gender recognition guidelines. It recommended that “X” (Indeterminate/Intersex/Unspecified) be redefined as “non-binary”. The federal government’s guidelines have always recognised as a minimum that intersex people may be female or male, and since 2015 have suggested the definition of X be shortened to indeterminate or unspecified.

Quote attributable to Morgan Carpenter, co-executive director:

Unfortunately, the reforms in South Australia repeat old mistakes.

Quote attributable to Tony Briffa, co-executive director:

It is very disappointing that despite the efforts of the intersex community and the medical profession, the SA government continues to show its ignorance when it comes to people who are born with biological variations of sex characteristics, and instead treats us as transgender or gender diverse. Intersex is not a third sex. This legislation supports trans and gender diverse people but throws intersex people under the bus.

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