The UNSW Queer Collective is promoting the rights of individuals to determine their own gender labels without any medical requirements through the Equality Legislation Amendment (LGBTIQA+) Bill 2023.
What is Self ID?
Self-ID refers to an individual's ability to self-identify or define their own gender identity, especially on legally recognised documents (like ID cards and passports), without requiring them to undertake medical treatment or surgeries. It is an important concept in discussions surrounding gender identity and LGBTQ+ rights.
Self-ID allows individuals to identify, label, and express their gender in a way that feels authentic to them.
For transgender and non-binary individuals, self-ID means they have the right to identify and present themselves as the gender they identify with, rather than being constrained by societal expectations based on their assigned gender at birth.
Self-ID is considered essential by queer rights activists for respecting an individual's dignity and autonomy. It acknowledges that each person is the best authority on their own gender identity and that their self-identification should be honoured and respected by others.
What do we want to change?
As of October 2023, NSW does not have specific self-ID legislation in place for gender identity recognition. Gender recognition in NSW requires individuals to provide evidence of having undergone gender transition treatment and approval from a medical professional for changes to identification documents. The current legislation hasn't been updated since 1996, and requires individuals to undergo a "sex affirmation procedure" before having documents updated.
In addition to the archaic nature of requiring transgender people to undergo surgery before their gender is recognised by the state, sex affirmation procedures (which, in a legal setting, refers to Sex Reassignment/"bottom surgery"), can be up to 80,000 dollars, and requires years of medical and psychiatric evaluation. Transgender, intersex, and non-binary people are more than twice as likely to work casual jobs compared to cis men and women, making them often unable to fund SRS and related treatments. By retaining this requirement for gender recognition, the NSW government treats gender affirmation as a privilege for the rich, rather than something that should be afforded to all people.
The proposed Self ID legislation will remove the requirement for any medical procedures when changing your gender on official documents, such as your driver's license or passport, making legal gender recognition accessible to everyone in the state.
Why is it important?
Respect for Autonomy: Self-ID recognizes and respects an individual's autonomy and their right to define their own identity. It acknowledges that each person is the best authority on their own gender identity and sexual orientation.
Human Rights and Dignity: Self-ID is a fundamental human rights issue. It promotes the inherent dignity of every person by allowing them to express their gender and identity in a way that feels true to them, without societal constraints or discrimination.
Mental and Emotional Well-being: For many transgender, non-binary, and LGBTQ+ individuals, self-identification is crucial for their mental and emotional well-being. Being able to live authentically and openly can reduce the stress and anxiety associated with hiding one's true identity.
Reduction of Discrimination: Legislation that supports self-ID helps protect individuals from discrimination based on their gender identity or sexual orientation. This is especially important in areas like employment, housing, and healthcare, where discrimination can have serious consequences.
Inclusivity and Diversity: Recognizing self-ID fosters a more inclusive and diverse society. It sends a message that all individuals, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation, are valued and accepted members of the community.
Legal and Practical Benefits: Self-ID often comes with legal benefits, such as the ability to change one's name and gender marker on official identification documents. This helps individuals navigate daily life more comfortably and securely.
Education and Awareness: Self-ID legislation can serve as an educational tool, raising awareness about the experiences and challenges faced by transgender, non-binary, and LGBTQ+ individuals. It promotes empathy and understanding within society.
Prevention of Stigmatization: By allowing self-ID, society moves away from stigmatizing or pathologizing non-binary and transgender identities. It acknowledges that these identities are valid and not a result of mental illness.
Alignment with Medical and Psychological Consensus: Leading medical and psychological organizations, such as the American Psychological Association, support self-ID as the most affirming approach for individuals questioning their gender identity or experiencing gender dysphoria.
Where has this succeeded before?
Tasmania: Tasmania was the first Australian state to pass self-ID legislation in 2019, after an investigation from the Tasmania Law Reform Institute.
Victoria: Victoria also passed Self ID legislation in 2019, removing the requirement for individuals to undergo Sex Reassignment Surgery before having their gender identifiers changed on state documents (such as driver's licenses).
New Zealand: In 2020, New Zealand passed the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act, simplifying the process for transgender individuals to change the gender marker on their birth certificates based on self-identification.
Ireland: Ireland passed the Gender Recognition Act in 2015, allowing individuals aged 16 and over to self-declare their gender identity for legal recognition. This legislation was considered a significant step forward in recognizing the rights of transgender individuals.
Argentina: Argentina is often cited as a global leader in transgender rights. The country has implemented progressive policies, including the Gender Identity Law passed in 2012, which allows individuals to self-declare their gender identity and access legal recognition and healthcare services.
Portugal: Portugal passed self-ID legislation in 2018, allowing individuals to change their legal gender by simply making a declaration at a civil registry office, without the need for medical or psychological evaluations.
Norway: Norway introduced self-ID legislation in 2016, allowing individuals to change their legal gender without medical requirements or approval from a psychiatrist. The law recognizes the importance of self-determination.
Denmark: Denmark passed legislation in 2014 that allows transgender individuals to self-declare their gender identity without medical requirements or surgery.
What are we endorsing?
Currently, the frontrunner for Self ID legislation in NSW is Alex Greenwich's Equality Legislation Amendment (LGBTIQA+) Bill 2023. As one of the most significant queer rights legislative packages in NSW history, we are calling on State Parliament to pass this legislation and break down another barrier to equality for trans and non-binary people in NSW.
From our petition:
We urge you to support and pass legislation recognizing self-identification for gender identity and sexual orientation in New South Wales. Respect for individuals' self-identified gender is fundamental to human rights, dignity, and equality. Such legislation will protect transgender, non-binary, and LGBTQ+ individuals from discrimination and promote a more inclusive society. We call on you to champion the rights of all NSW residents by enacting this vital legislation.
What can I do to help?
- Sign our petition!
- Email or call your local MP! These are the people voting on the bill, so they need to know that the people they represent want this to pass.
- Educate yourself on Self ID and why it's important! We've linked some resources after the article, feel free to leave more in the comments :)
The UNSW Queer Collective is championing the cause of self-identification empowering individuals to define their own gender identity and sexual orientation, without the imposition of medical requirements. We call upon the NSW State Parliament to pass this legislation recognizing self-identification for gender identity and sexual orientation. By doing so, we protect the rights of all NSW residents, promote a more inclusive society, and demonstrate a commitment to human rights, dignity, and equality.