Progress towards simpler process for changing sex on birth certificates

  • Hon Jan Tinetti

The Government is taking the next step to support transgender, non-binary and intersex New Zealanders, by progressing the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration Bill, Minister of Internal Affairs, Jan Tinetti announced today.

“This Government understands that self-identification is a significant issue for transgender, non-binary and intersex New Zealanders, and is committed to making it easier for people to formally acknowledge their identified gender,” Jan Tinetti said.

The Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration Bill has been deferred since 2019, after the select committee reported back.

“This Government supports the select committee’s recommendation to include self-identification provisions in the Bill, but we want further improvements. It’s important that we get this right.

“Gender terminology evolves rapidly – what was appropriate five years ago may not be what is used today – so I am proposing a range of sex markers to be set in regulations rather than in legislation.”

Setting the sex markers in regulations will mean they can be more easily reviewed and updated to ensure they meet the needs of transgender, non-binary and intersex people.

“Gender can be fluid, and how a person identifies may change over time. I propose allowing a person to change their registered sex multiple times – however, those wanting to amend their registered sex multiple times will have to meet requirements to ensure their application is genuine. These requirements will be established in regulations.

“The Bill will have its second reading in August, after which I will invite a select committee to consider public submissions on the self-identification provisions in the Bill so that everyone can have their say. I would like to hear more, for example, from our diverse communities, including Māori, Pacific peoples and ethnic communities, as well as young people.”

People have been able to change the sex on their birth certificate since the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration Act was passed in 1995.

“The Bill will simplify the confusing, intimidating and time-consuming process for those who wish to self-identify their sex on their birth certificate – so it’s similar to the current process for driver’s licenses and passports.

“This change will lessen the likelihood that transgender, non-binary and intersex New Zealanders will experience discrimination in their day-to-day lives, particularly when using a birth certificate to access services like setting up a bank account or enrolling a child in school.

“I understand the frustrations from communities that have been fighting for these changes since 2007, and I encourage them to make their voices heard in the select committee,” Jan Tinetti said.

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