I didn’t really want to add to the hyperbolic reaction to the Tasmanian Government’s recent changes to the Births, Deaths and Marriages Act, but it seems like people are going to keep talking about it in either a disingenuous or plain ignorant fashion so I want to put a few thoughts out.
Firstly, to my knowledge, I have never needed to use by birth certificate to prove my gender. If my gender was not recorded on my birth certificate, it would have made zero difference to my life. But if you were transgender person, and one who had already had to endure years of suspicion, derision and hostility to your true sex, wouldn’t it be nice to not have that detail recorded where you can’t change it?
Unless a cisgender individual has had to use their birth certificate to prove their gender, I can’t see how they can credibly argue that removing the detail from it will have a negative impact on children in the future.
Unless of course they do have an agenda and have no problem with lacking credibility...
Let’s address the most egregious mistruth being peddled widely in this controversy first. Choosing not to record a baby’s sex when it is born (why does it even need to be recorded) is not defining it as trans from birth. It is just- quite sensibly- acknowledging the reality that there is a possibility the baby may need to transition at a later stage in their life and thus removing an unnecessary source of potential discomfort and difficulty.
If I had been given the option I probably wouldn’t have recorded my little girl’s gender. I know she is a girl so there is actually no need to have it on her birth certificate.
Well done Sue Hickey, too, for having the courage to cross the floor on this issue too. I get why some Liberal supporters are frustrated at her willingness to go against prevailing party policy positions (excuse the accidental tongue-twister), but liberals who are willing to vote for liberal policies might turn out to be the only thing that saves the liberal party. Just looking at the Victorian election gives an insight into the fate that will await any liberal government that is held hostage to outdated ultraconservative agendas for too long.
The Liberal Party is fond of telling the population that members are not forced to vote on party lines and have the freedom to cross the floor, so when Hickey does just that, they can hardly complain about it (it is always portrayed as a minor event when Abbott and his acolytes do it or threaten to do so towards a policy that is not regressive enough).
I also take issue with the argument that our government has ‘bigger issues’ to worry about and shouldn’t be debating this in parliament. Aside from the fact that our elected representatives are well paid and resourced and it is not at all unreasonable to expect them to be across a number of issues that are important to members of their constituency. And the fact that a particular minority may have been traditionally ignored does not make their concerns unimportant.
Moreover, these laws passed through the house in an afternoon, which would have left the government plenty of time to start doing something about their mismanagement of health and education if they wanted. But let’s be honest: if this bill had not been introduced, our health system would still be in crisis, our homeless would still be being ignored and government’s 2% wage cap would still be contributing to wage stagnation across the state (we are being warned by the RBA and other economists that wage stagnation is powerful risk factor for another financial crash, yet the Hodgman government is actively contributing to it). What might have been achieved would have been another couple of hours of the kind of pointless self-congratulations and political scoring that makes question time so unwatchable. If parliamentary sitting time was that important to people, you might have expected more to be seriously outraged by Scummo’s attempts to limit federal parliament to the minimum number of sitting days in the first half of next year (which could be less than ten depending on when the election is called).