Jasper Lees does not want to have to get a hysterectomy in order to be officially recognised as a man. (ABC News: Scott Ross)
The transgender son of the leader of the Tasmanian Greens joins calls for the State Government to allow people to change the gender on their birth certificate without having drastic surgery.
In budget estimates hearings on Thursday, Attorney-General Elise Archer revealed the Department of Justice was reviewing the Births, Deaths and Marriages Act in response to calls from the transgender community for proper recognition.
Under current state law, transgender people cannot change the gender on their birth certificate unless they have surgery to remove their reproductive organs.
South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory are the only two jurisdictions to have removed the requirement.
Jasper Lees, who is the son of Greens Leader Cassy O’Connor, began his transition from female to male 18 months ago.
Mr Lees, 19, has had surgery to remove his breasts but like many transgender people, does not want to undergo a hysterectomy in order to be recognised as a male on official documents.
“It’s basically saying you have to be sterile to have your sex reflected on any form of identification,” he said.
Mr Lees said any interaction in day-to-day life that required any official form of ID would “out him as a trans man”.
“I find myself having to explain to people taking my blood or a doctor or someone at the ED that I am trans and I shouldn’t have to that,” he said.
Transgender woman Martine Delaney, 60, was part of a delegation that quietly met with Ms Archer a few weeks ago to argue the case for changing the act.
Ms Delaney has been fighting to have the law changed for 14 years, and said the opportunity for change was now.
Since same-sex marriage became legal, all states and territories have until December to remove the forced divorce clause in the Marriage Act that forces heterosexual couples to divorce if one of them underwent a gender transition.
Ms Delaney said since the meeting with Ms Archer she was hopeful the Government was “showing some interest in granting true equality”.
“Nobody is going to be harmed by it,” she said.
“It is a relatively small number of people whose lives will be immeasurably improved by the Government simply giving them the same rights and freedoms everyone else has.”
‘Australia is a long way behind’
In estimates hearings, the Greens’ justice spokeswoman Rosalie Woodruff argued the Government should push through the two changes to the act the same time.
Ms Archer said she could not make any decisions “overnight” and the amendment to remove the surgical requirement for gender recognition would need to go out for public consultation.
“I am sorry that these things can be delayed, but it is the process that has to occur in relation to changing the law, and ultimately it has to go to Parliament,” she said.
Ms Archer is likely to have a tough time convincing conservative members of the Tasmanian Government to support the changes, particularly those who have voted against same-sex marriage and euthanasia.
LGBTI activist Rodney Croome said Tasmania should get up to speed with comparable countries like New Zealand, Canada, France, the United Kingdom and some US states that have already allowed gender recognition without surgery.
“When we look at the issue internationally, Australia has fallen quote a long way behind other countries,” he said.
Opposition spokesman David O’Byrne said Labor would support the law change.
“Labor supports equality, particularly across gender and issues of sexuality,” he said.
Premier Will Hodgman would not be drawn on whether he would back the change, or support a conscience vote.
“We are still awaiting a response from the department [of justice],” he said.