OUSA has submitted in strong support of gender self-identification on birth certificates. The proposed Bill, currently at its final stage before the House of Representatives, would make it easier for people to change the sex or gender on their birth certificates without going to court.
The official name of what OUSA submitted to is the Inquiry into Supplementary Order Paper (SOP) 59 on the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration Bill. Which is a bit of a mouthful. For context, this Bill has been before the house since 2018, which is a weirdly long time. That’s mainly because the Select Committee, back in 2019, heard public submissions arguing that the Bill should allow people to self-identify their gender on their birth certificates. The Committee agreed with those submissions and suggested that the amendments be made.
The Bill is now stuck at the last stage of the law-making process, but there have been a lot of proposed changes at this final point. One of those changed versions of the Bill, called Supplementary Order Paper 59, was sent out for consultation on 25 August 2021. That’s what OUSA are submitting on. The Bill is likely to go be sent back to Select Committee again after these submissions are considered.
The submission was written by the Exec’s Political Representative, Mhairi Mackenzie-Everitt. The basic position, as OUSA saw it, is that the proposed changes create “a fairer and more accessible process.” The submission said that, “while current processes no longer require outright physical transition in all cases, its reliance on judicial procedure and the involvement of medical experts in seeking to externally validate individual’s identities remains problematic. This process is inequitable and unduly burdensome.”
“The ideal benchmark for our law should be one that reflects the fluid and personal nature of identity, and enables gender diverse individuals to easily access legal confirmation of their identities on their own terms,” the submission said. “Self-nomination and the outright abolition of legal tests relating to physical conformity is the key outcome to be sought, and one that reflects the increasing diversity of New Zealanders’ lived reality.”
The submission noted that there was likely to be submissions in opposition to SOP 59 and said that they reject the idea that self-identification threatens women’s rights. “These submissions are informed by ideologies founded on inaccurate and misleading disinformation that is harmful to the LGBTQIA+ community,” they wrote.
They noted that a specific section of the Bill allows officials to take into account matters other than the information on a birth certificate. “This demonstrates that the sex as identified on a birth certificate is not the be-all, end-all of identification — if there is basis to believe that an individual’s self-identification on their birth certificate may pose a risk to others, then this may be taken into account under existing processes,” OUSA wrote.
OUSA highlighted that Argentina, Belgium, Ireland, Malta, Norway, and Portugal have similar laws allowing self-identification. OUSA also proposed making it easier for young people to change the gender on their birth certificate, as well as saying that SOP 59 should be extended to cover all permanent residents, migrants, and refugees rather than just New Zealand citizens.