Tasmanian Times

Bronwyn Williams

Women call for review to sex discrimination laws

Women Speak Tasmania is calling for uniform changes to federal and state anti-discrimination laws.

All Australian legislatures must urgently address the need for accurate and effective definitions of “sex” and “gender identity” in anti-discrimination laws across Australia.

We must develop uniform laws in all Australian jurisdictions to remove confusion and to protect women.

Recent developments in gender identity protections have had a generally negative impact on women’s rights. Current sex-discrimination and anti-discrimination laws are unclear about how the new gender identity protections should interact with women’s rights under the same laws. Clarity is imperative if women’s sex-based rights are to be guaranteed.

That guarantee was broken recently in Canada when a female sexual assault victim was forced to share a room in a female-only accommodation facility with a man ‘self-identifying’ as a woman because the facility chose to be ‘inclusive’ –


In Tasmania, a newly formed group campaigning for transgender rights, Transforming Tasmania, is pressing for changes to birth registration laws that will allow the sex on a person’s birth certificate to be changed on the basis of self-identification alone, or removed altogether.

Women’s rights to single sex services, accommodation, educational institutions and sports teams, et cetera would clearly be under attack if self-identified transwomen were legally able to access them.

Given the far-reaching effects these proposed legal changes would have on women, families and the broader community, critical analysis and wide-ranging community consultation is vital, along with a thorough revamp of existing anti-discrimination laws.

Women Speak Tasmania supports the response of Woman’s Place UK to similar legislative proposals in the United Kingdom. Their simple demands were as follows –

‘1. Respectful and evidence-based discussion on the impact of proposed legislative changes. Women’s voices must be heard.

2. The principle of women-only spaces to be upheld and, where necessary, extended.

3. A review of how current sex-based exemptions in legislation are being applied to ensure women’s needs are met.

4. Government consultation with women’s organisations on how self-identification of sex would impact on women, and female-only services and spaces.

5. Government consultation on how self-identification of sex will impact data gathering and monitoring of sex-based discrimination.’

See – https://www.facebook.com/womansplaceuk/photos/a.534210166933174.1073741829.494295627591295/662192574134932/?type=3&theater (adapted).

Gender identity based protections must not be allowed to compromise women’s sex-based protections in law. Women need to assured of access to safe female-only spaces and services.

*Bronwyn Williams is a retired lawyer and social worker

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]


  1. Tessa

    August 26, 2018 at 12:44 pm

    Response to # 8 continued …

    So there you have it, just a few examples of the negative impact of gender identity protections on women, and reasoning as to why the change to birth certificate laws would entrench the current practices, harmful to girls and women, as unquestionable.

    It’s not hard to find other examples, or use your imagination to understand the examples that may arise. This is not ‘hyperbole, sophistry or nonsensical speculation’. This is cogent legal analysis of direct impact of a legal change. And the transactivists know this too .. which is why they want these changes to birth certificate laws.

  2. Tessa

    August 26, 2018 at 12:43 pm

    Response to #8 question “What women’s rights have been lost”

    If you can’t understand this already you are being obtuse, but for anyone who is still not clear and cares to read on, here is the way I explain it.

    The introduction of gender identity protections into anti-discrimination laws has ‘practically’ affected women’s right to exclude males, although I believe those rights still exist formally.

    This has come about because women’s right to exclude males via the use of exemptions and exceptions in anti-discrimination law, although still existing formally, is practically void when males are accepted into the category ‘female’ at nothing other than their ‘self-identification’, ie women’s right to say ‘no’ to such males is removed.

    Now, whether males ‘self-identifying as female’ can still legally be excluded under anti-discrimination laws is unclear on the wording of the legislation, in my opinion. I think that what the legislation intends is for the right of females to exclude all males (including males self identifying as female) to continue, BUT the practice of the various state and territory anti-discrimination commissions, and the Australian Human Rights Commission in enforcing women’s right to exclude has all but been lost. If you look up the websites of some of the commissions, you will find fact-sheets and educational documents which seem to suggest that women do not have the right to exclude males any more, if they ‘self-identify’ as women (such as from sports teams, or job positions reserved for women). So in that sense, women’s rights under these laws have become void *in practice*, albeit, not formally.

    Also of note, is that when the 2013 amendments where made to the Sex Discrimination Act, the definitions of ‘woman’ and ‘man’ were removed. They used to read “woman/man ‘means a member of the female/male sex irrespective of age'” respectively. I haven’t taken the time to read back on the explanatory memorandum for this but I suspect this was an attempt to make more ambiguous women’s right to exclude, by opening up the category ‘woman’ to something other than ‘adult human female’ (perhaps ‘anyone who says they are a women’?). Nonetheless, with these definitions removed, the law is still ambiguous – although not in women’s favour.

    Trans activists know of these ambiguities in law too. That is why they want changes to birth certificate laws .. to be able to enforce their self-declaration of femaleness on girls and women absolutely, when their right to do so is otherwise unclear under the current laws. They want to make it unambiguous that they are to be treated for all legal purposes as female. Transforming Tasmania representative Martine Delaney recently stated as much in an article about their call for ‘Marjorie’s Law’, suggesting that with the self-identification of sex on birth certificates, males sentenced to prison time who would otherwise be automatically sent to male prisons would be able to be sent to female prisons if their birth certificate recorded them as ‘female’. The same principle applies to all examples where women would otherwise be able to exclude males.

    Other rights that are in question are the right to speak the truth. I am aware of a woman in Australia who has recently been called to a state anti-discrimination tribunal to answer a charge of refusing to call a man by females pronouns, because he demanded she do so, and she refused because well .. he is male.

    Recently in the UK, a woman was assaulted by a man ‘identifying as female’ when she attended a meeting to discuss the negative impacts of gender identity laws on women’s rights. He was charged and convicted of the assault, but at trial the judge ‘warned’ the victim to refer to him by female pronouns and reduced his sentence because the victim later tweeted something mocking about him. Here we have a man assaulting a woman and she is not allowed to name this as male violence, or publicly denounce her attacker with a humorous, mocking tweet. (And yet, he ‘tweeted before the assault ‘Let’s go fuck up some TERFS’ – and this was held by the judge to be ‘mere bravado’. Double standard anyone?)

    Will a judge insist in a rape case that a woman refer to her male rapists penis as his ‘lady stick’ so as to preserve ‘his’ right to an inviolable ‘gender identity’? What about her right (and in court, her obligation) to speak the truth?

    So here is another ‘right’ which has been made ‘practically void’ because of the way that the gender identity protections in anti-discrimination law are being interpreted.

  3. Joanna

    August 23, 2018 at 7:48 pm

    #8 … Lisa, authors of the article don’t have any issues with transgender individuals being protected in anti-discrimination laws. However in the same legislation we are already seeing a change of focus. The government seems to be more interested in gender information rather than sex, because it is interested in “a social footprint of a person”.

    Radical feminists are concerned with early medical transition for children and youth affecting mental health, normal puberty, and fertility, etc. They are not concerned about adults making that choice.

    Plenty has been written about the danger of erasing information about biological sex from records, or changes made to records solely based on self identification. UK group Fair Play for Women with Doctor Nicola Williams documents effects of changes to law, and warns about further impact.

    Women’s sports and shelters have already negatively impacted women due to allowing biological males. Men aren’t impacted by these changes, as trans-men aren’t boldly and arrogantly entering female sports or threatening males at male only shelters.


  4. Lisa Mullin

    August 21, 2018 at 2:22 pm

    “Transgender politics has a more detrimental effect on women’s rights than men’s rights. ”

    That is just pure hyperbole. What cis* women’s rights have been affected by either (a) dropping the surgery requirement for a legal gender change and/or (b) gender identity being a protected characteristic in anti discrimination laws (since 2013 no less)?

    Have any rights been taken away? Nope.
    Have there been any changes in sexual assault (etc) laws? Nope.
    Has there been a massive increase in sexual assault and violence all done by trans men or trans women? Nope.

    On 25 June 2013, the Federal Parliament added marital or relationship status, sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status as protected attributes to the existing Sex Discrimination Act by passing the Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Act 2013.

    From 1 August 2013, discrimination against transgender and gender diverse people, and all LGBTI people, became illegal for the first time under national law.

    So what cis* women’s rights were lost when that happened .. in 2013?

    Extraordinary claims require evidence to back them up.. not hyperbole or sophistry or nonsensical speculation based on zero facts.

    Added: I just checked, and Western Australia doesn’t require GCS either.

    [i] * Short for cis-gendered, meaning someone who identifies with the sex they were born as.[/i]

  5. Lisa Mullin

    August 21, 2018 at 1:44 pm

    Lost in this ‘debate’ is the simple fact that trans men and trans women having been using the toilets, services, etc of their chosen gender .. forever. Where does everyone think we go?

    Law enforcement and sexual violence experts from all around the world (US, Canada,UK, Australia, New Zealand) have all stated that there never has been a problem with that.

    Everywhere self identification has been introduced has had .. no problems. Note that self identification is not just as simple as most people think. In one of the most liberal versions (Ireland) it requires a statutory declaration .. which has penalties attached to it for false declarations. Others require a statement from a doctor .. and so on.

    What has been dropped in those countries is the need for gender confirmation surgery (GCS) which is a requirement in most of Australia (except South Australia). Yet that same surgery is not covered by Medicare or pubic hospitals ..which is massive financial burden – around $26,000.

    So we have a dichotomy here. It is currently a State legal requirement, yet there is no State support for something they require.

    Note the Federal Government doesn’t require it. So a transgender person can get a Medicare card and passport for their true gender with simply a letter from their doctor. There is no need for GCS.

    Note this also affects intersex people .. where non consensual surgery can (and too often is) undertaken on babies and infants …and is paid for by the State. Yet, if it assigns the wrong gender to them (which happens far too often) they still have to meet the same legal requirements (and costs) as a transgender person .. which may even be physically impossible because of prior surgery done on them.

    Countries that have dropped the need for GCS are: France, UK, Canada, Argentina, Colombia, Denmark, Ireland, Norway, Malta, Pakistan. Probably India soon, Nepal, as well as South Australia. Others are heading that way.

    Amazingly enough the sky hasn’t fallen in .. and none of the things claimed by the scaremongers has happened.

  6. Isla MacGregor

    August 18, 2018 at 11:46 pm

    Some excellent points, Christopher.

    [i]grotesque opportunism[/i] indeed! Sadly, the coming backlash is going to be severe.

  7. Christopher Eastman-Nagle

    August 18, 2018 at 10:41 pm

    Thanks Bronwyn, for the great work and your resolute determination to do something practical to protect women against an invasion of their gender space.

    Your concern may be represented by some as a ‘phobia, which is a dirty little smear to try and turn your principled opposition to a spurious and opportunistic invasion of your gender space, into an adverse psychiatric condition. It is a jargonistic pseudo-scientific ideological rip-off of genuine science.

    No doubt Bronwyn, your enemies will try to represent what you are saying as ‘hate speech’, which is another dirty little trick not dissimilar to the one pulled by red necked deep south racists in the US when they suggested that anyone who was a principled supporter of civil rights was a ‘nigger lover’.

    It is the same sort of tactic of denying that there is a legitimate argument about the agenda at hand, whether it be civil rights or women’s gender rights.

    The aggression of the trans lobby is related directly to its ideological tendentiousness, which forces it ‘to protest too much’.

    The whole gamut of sexual identity politics, or ‘sexistentialism’ (I am my sexuality) is essentially a round robin of ideology corrupting science into pseudo science, and genuine discourse and debate into propaganda weaponised with PR/marketspeak.

    Women have a larger driving motivation beyond wanting to eject sexual opportunists and pseudo gender desperadoes from genuine female space.

    The sexual revolution that produced sexistentialist identity politics out of its deregulatory agenda was a booby trap for women, because deregulation meant ‘open season’ on them. They were the deregulated bunnies, on a date, at home, at work and throughout the architecture of media discourse.

    Deregulation doesn’t do sexual-political reregulation/reconstruction of gender politics.

    And that explains why the trans get the political traction it does beyond just aggression, bullying and creative pseudo-science/propaganda.

    It is using the deregulatory drivers that have been rolled out by Indulgence Capitalism since the Vietnam War days. Liberty started to evolve into egoistic disinhibition and rights became consumer entitlements, with all the responsible agency and autonomy disciplines torn out, eventually leaving our social infrastructure in a state of unplanned adolescence, with almost no boundaries left to secure anything, let alone sexual ones.

    And the people who had to pick up after all the mess and pay most of the price of what that has left in its wake, were women. They lost a lot more than they gained out of the deregulation of the social system.

    It is a terrible general reflection on what that deregulation has done to us, and particularly women over the last 50 years, that brothels and their pimps can now ‘legitimately’ project themselves to the rest of us as ‘beneficent and empowering’ job opportunity providers. That is how low sexual politics have really sunk.

    And the trannies are par for that kind of grotesque opportunism.

    They and the pimps are just deregulatory free-loaders who can position themselves to ride down with, and use up collapsing social infrastructure that is so smashed that it is helpless to repel even the most feeble ideological malware.

    Women need strong social infrastructure that supports and politically empowers them and makes sure their menfolk can, and do, deliver on a whole lot of bottom lines that they are not doing now. And they really do not need sexual interlopers and sexual pariah industries to further muddy the waters of an already anti-woman deregulated system.

  8. Joanna Pinkiewicz

    August 14, 2018 at 7:14 pm

    Transgender politics has a more detrimental effect on women’s rights than men’s rights. That is perhaps the reason why men don’t find it to concerning.

    Women who oppose transgender politics do this because they already experience degradation of their rights personally, or within their communities or workplaces.

    Take for example, women’s sports. There will be a little chance that a trans-man qualifies and competes alongside biological males.

    Women who oppose transgender politics understand the consequences of allowing biological males to be validated by law and the society as women. Those women are called “transphobic” which is an attempt to bully them into submission to accept the ideology. It is also, in almost all cases, a defamation.

    Those women are not against the rights for transgender people, but they are not going to capitulate their own sanity and safety over a belief and ideology that harms them.

    I am glad to see that Women Speak is wanting to engage in a community dialogue about gender identity and the impact of law changes. We very much need engaged and varied discussion. How can this dialogue be instigated without vitriol?

  9. Mentor in Violence prevention

    August 14, 2018 at 2:36 pm

    Regarding safe women-friendly spaces and services … surely women need to feel emotionally safe before they can approach such services to share their vulnerability and deeper needs. Isn’t this the whole point of having women-friendly spaces so that women feel understood?

    I have noticed that in so many cases women can feel guilty due to societal judgements or sexism.

    Also, when we consider the lifelong disadvantage of women who have been exposed to intimate partner abuse or subjected to sexual assault, then surely this is all the more reason to ensure that women feel safe and welcome to approach services in the first place where they can feel understood by other women in an empowering way.

  10. Mentor in Prevention of Violence

    August 14, 2018 at 2:00 pm

    Well said, Bronwyn. Yes, clarity, critical thought, women-friendly consultation and community consultation are required to ensure that women’s right to access safe women friendly spaces and services. Anti-discrimination legislation must uphold the dignity and right of women to have their needs met.

    Also, I agree with Isla’s comment regarding the “fragile gains achieved by women over the decades..” and how these hard won gains could be undermined by identity politics.

    We talk about women’s collective strength to claim “women-to women-only spaces” and cannot take any gain or claim for women friendly policy or spaces for granted.

    Can you give examples please Isla of how “more and more trans-women who do not identify as (biological) women” do understand the need for (biological) women-only spaces? Also, what do men think of this issue? Where are the feminist-supportive men?

  11. Isla MacGregor

    August 14, 2018 at 12:07 am

    Thank you, Bronwyn.

    The mainstream debate in the media on transgender rights continues to exclude the impact of the trans-rights campaign and its impact on the fragile gains achieved by women over the decades.

    Identity politics continues to prey on media’s insatiable predilection for the spectacle of the extraordinary – at the expense of women’s rights.

    It should be of interest to the mainstream media that more and more transgender women, who do not identify as women, are speaking out against trans-rights activists campaigns and are instead reasserting the right of biological women to women-only spaces.

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