Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Article

Transgender law reform … a women’s rights perspective

In recent years, ‘gender’ and ‘gender identity’ have become a feature of anti-discrimination law in Australia at both the federal and state levels.

 

Transgender rights proponents are now lobbying for radical changes to the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1999 (Tas) that will enable transgender persons to change the sex marker on their birth certificate on the basis on self-identification alone.  Local transgender rights group, Transforming Tasmania, is even advocating that ‘gender markers’ be removed from birth certificates entirely.

 

Women Speak Tasmania is developing a series of policies addressing all aspects of the trans right debate.  Initially, we have proposed policies dealing with the issue of ‘gender’ and ‘gender’ identity as protected characteristics in anti-discrimination law, and the suggested changes to the law regulating birth certificates put forward by trans rights group.

 

Our policies provide a solution to the confusion surrounding the terms ‘gender’ and ‘gender identity’ and protect the integrity of the historical record contained in birth certificates, as they are now recorded.

 

The draft policies for Tasmania are as follows –

 

ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LAW

 

POLICY

 

  1. ‘Biological sex’ to replace ‘gender’ in the Anti-Discrimination Act 1998 (Tas) as a protected characteristic, with definitions of ‘biological sex’ and ‘intersex’.
  2. New part of Anti-Discrimination Act 1998 (Tas) titled ‘Discrimination on the Basis of Biological Sex’ – discrimination not permitted, with exemptions for female or male biological sex specific services, facilities, groups and sports where it is in the best interests of those of either female or male biological sex to have exclusive access to those sex specific services, facilities, groups or sports, including the right to safety, free association and fair competition.
  3. ‘Gender identity’ no longer a protected characteristic.  Replaced by ‘social identity’.
  4. Definitions –
  • ‘biological sex’ – means ‘the sex phenotype, either female or male, observed at birth’
  • ‘intersex’ – means ‘a person with a Disorder of Sex Development (DSD), resulting in an ambiguous sex phenotype’
  • ‘social identity’ – means ‘the sex-related appearance or other sex-related characteristics of an individual (whether by way of medical intervention or not), with or without regard to the individual’s designated sex at birth, and includes transsexualism’
  • ‘transsexual’ – means ‘a person who, whether or not intersex and having been legally assigned one sex at birth –

(a) assumes the bodily characteristics of the other sex by medical or other means; or

(b) identifies himself or herself as a member of the other sex; or

(c) lives or seeks to live as a member of the other sex’

  • ‘transsexualism’ – means ‘the condition of being a transsexual’

 

[Brief explanation of ‘phenotype’ and ‘genotype’ – genotype – XX, XY or any intersex variant – is immutable.  Phenotype is observed at birth and is congruent with genotype in the vast majority of cases.  One exception is the rare intersex condition, Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS), where the newborn appears female but has an XY genotype.  This is not usually diagnosed until puberty is delayed, because the child develops normally as female, including the external genitalia, but they have internal testes, no ovaries or uterus et cetera.  Other intersex conditions are usually identified at birth because of ambiguous genitalia and other associated physical abnormalities.  Phenotype can be modified by hormone treatment and surgery, as is the case with transsexual persons].

 

RATIONALE

 

  1. Biological sex should be a protected characteristic in anti-discrimination legislation. Biological sex is the basis of most discrimination against female persons, for example when they are pregnant or breastfeeding, or have other parenting obligations.  It is also the prime factor in the majority of physical offences against them, for example domestic abuse, sexual assault and rape.

 

Women suffer discrimination in the workplace, and violence at the hands of male persons not because they identify as women, but because they have female bodies.

 

  1. ‘Gender’ is a term that originated in the study of linguistics as a means of differentiating sex-related, i.e. female or male, nouns and pronouns. Over time it came to be used colloquially as an alternative to the term ‘sex’, meaning either male or female.

 

Presently, the terms ‘gender’ and ‘gender identity’ have come to represent a sense of innate femaleness or maleness in an individual, regardless of biological sex.  That sense is demonstrated, in either case, by adopting the stereotypical appearance and other characteristics of the chosen sex, usually one that is opposite to the individual’s biological sex.

 

Protecting the characteristics of gender and gender identity in anti-discrimination law essentially protects the interests of those who ‘feel’ their ‘true’ sex is at odds with their biological sex, while the interests of biological females NOT in this category are ignored.  Biological females make up slightly more than 50 per cent of the Australian population.  At the most recent census – 2016 – 1,260 persons reported as sex and/or gender diverse out of a total population of 23,401,892, or approximately 0.00000054 per cent.  So, current anti-discrimination law in Australia provides specific protections for an infinitesimal proportion of the population and ignores more than half of us.

 

Given the inability of legislators, or anyone, to satisfactorily define ‘gender’ or ‘gender identity’ without reference to the social constructs and stereotypes associated with biological femaleness and maleness, they should be removed from legislation and replaced with the term ‘social identity’, which more accurately describes the self-presentation of a biological male as female and vice versa.

 

  1. The notion of ‘inclusion’, as it applies to those whose social identity is different to their biological sex, should not compromise sex-based rights.

 

  1. Protections for intersex persons, or those born with a Disorder of Sex Development (DSD), should remain.  Such persons are not the same as transgender individuals.  Their need for specific inclusion in anti-discrimination law is based on their genotypical and/or phenotypical diversion from sexually dimorphic norms, not a choice made to present as other than their biological sex.

 

 

BIRTH CERTIFICATES

 

POLICY

 

  1. Changes to sex registered on birth certificates not permitted. Part 4A – Registration of Change of Sex – of the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1999 (Tas) to be removed and replaced by a part titled ‘Recognition Certificates’.
  2. A Sex Reassignment Board established to consider applications to issue a recognition certificate to persons who have a social identity that is incongruent with their biological sex, or incongruent with the sex registered in their name at birth in the case of intersex persons.
  3. Definitions –
  • ‘biological sex’ – means ‘the sex phenotype, either female or male, observed at birth’
  • ‘intersex’ – means ‘a person with a Disorder of Sex Development (DSD), resulting in an ambiguous sex phenotype’
  • ‘social identity’ – means ‘the sex-related appearance or other sex-related characteristics of an individual (whether by way of medical intervention or not), with or without regard to the individual’s designated sex at birth, and includes transsexualism’
  • ‘transsexual’ – means ‘a person who, whether or not intersex and having been legally assigned one sex at birth –

(a) assumes the bodily characteristics of the other sex by medical or other means; or

(b) identifies himself or herself as a member of the other sex; or

(c) lives or seeks to live as a member of the other sex’

  • ‘transsexualism’ – means ‘the condition of being a transsexual’
    1. Applications can only be made by persons over the age of 18 years.

 

RATIONALE

 

  1. A birth certificate is a historical record of the sex phenotype of an individual, observed at birth. Subsequent changes in the individual’s sense of personal congruence with this record are not a sufficient basis to rewrite history.
  2. Birth certificates in general serve an important demographic function, informing numerous aspects of government and social policy in health, education, policing and justice, and other services. Altering this record compromises the integrity of the data derived therefrom.
  3. It is recognised, however, that individuals who have adopted a social identity incongruent with their biological sex should have the opportunity to apply for a recognition certificate. Intersex persons who have a social identity incongruent with the biological sex registered in their name at birth should have the same opportunity.  A recognition certificate is not a substitute for a birth certificate, but an acknowledgment of social identity for those who require it.
  4. In considering applications for a recognition certificate, the Sex Reassignment Board will take account of evidence that shows the claimant has lived, and intends to live in the future, with a social identity incongruent with their biological sex.
  5. Such applications can only be made by persons over the age of 18 years.

 

 

Author – Women Speak Tasmania

 

Women Speak Tasmania is a network of individuals, led by women and open to women, men, and transsexual and intersex people who support our work for women’s rights.  We put sex before ‘gender’.

 

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

6 Comments

  1. Christopher Eastman-Nagle

    October 17, 2018 at 6:06 pm

    What I find so interesting about this move against the transgen lobby by feminists is the long overdue break up of the ‘liberation’ alliance that started life in the 1960s as a broad front resistance to the then traditional status quo.

    50 years later, the parts of that alliance that have benefitted from leveraging the new status quo now stand at odds with the frustrated struggle of women to get the political side of sexual politics even on the agenda. They never did benefit from so called sexual ‘liberation’ that they were sold as capitalism shifted from a needs and wants economy to one built around rules, standards and boundaries busting indulgence, deregulation of the social system and privatization of accountability, stewardship and moral agency in favour of personal whims and egoistic narcissism.

    To say that this was an anti woman outcome is putting it mildly, as women found themselves being commodified as sexual servants-on-demand, continuing to do most of the domestic work at home and marginalized in the paid force as mostly auxiliaries, well away from the levers of economic power.

    And now, just to add insult to injury, they find that sexual deregulators and boundary fudgers and cribbers are attempting to invade and colonize what it means to be a woman at all. These spoilt brats expect to be indulged because they are ‘poor things’ with huge needs that aren’t just entrenched sexual identity fantasies, nor merely wants, nor needs, but human rights, because they say so, and only people utterly lacking in empathetic compassion could possibly deny not merely the assertion, but the fact….

    Calling the bluff of this kind of ideological bollocks is tough because the system loves self indulgence, thrives on it and uses it as a cultural weapon to disable any sensibility that limits desire and satiating it. Discipline is rendered ‘repressive’ and standing up for boundaries and rules of any sort is ‘authoritarian’, ‘prejudiced, ‘bigoted’ and ‘heartless’.

    Destroying the boundaries of what it means to be a woman is part and parcel of creating a world without boundaries or any other reference points that enable individuals to maintain a basic grip on reality that hasn’t been defined for them by those who condition our buy responses for us.

    The transgender attack on our existential heartland is part of a much more general attack on what little is now left of our heavily damaged social infrastructure. And the deregulatory and privatization agenda behind it is exactly the same as that of the corporate libertarians, which do exactly the same damage to economic governance and environmental stewardship.

    The cultural forces at work here are a replica of the larger economic ones. And the argument that feminists are having with the transgens is essentially an argument with an Indulgence capitalism that has absolutely no intention of allowing them to get out from under the welter of undignifying commodification that has all but flattened a marginalized them.

    The terrible conclusion that I have drawn from what is happening to secular modern women, whether on the transgen or prostitution front, is that Muslim women have more dignity and respect accorded to them by Islam, even allowing for the overt second class status accorded to them.

    Giving the transgens a flea in their collective ear might be a start to begin to amend this miserable state of affairs. If being a woman had not been turned into a commodity, the transgens would not be trying it on in the first place. Sexual commodification is their tool-in-trade.

  2. Kathy

    October 17, 2018 at 1:57 pm

    This is such an important proposal that will genuinely protect women-only spaces and organisations. Biologically, sex must never be trumped by some vague and ill defined notion of ‘gender’ .. as is happening in other parts of the world.

  3. Brooke

    October 17, 2018 at 1:48 pm

    Fantastic to see what has become a terrifying and rapidly growing issue of female erasure addressed.

  4. Andrea

    October 17, 2018 at 1:45 pm

    This makes so much sense. A terrific template for policy world-wide given the current state of things.

  5. Simone

    October 17, 2018 at 12:38 pm

    Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant. Thank you Women Speak Tasmania.

  6. Annabelle

    October 17, 2018 at 11:27 am

    Groundbreaking proposals that make sense and put female rights back on the agenda and put an end to female erasure.

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