Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Govt eases process for birth certificate sex change

The Government is increasing support for New Zealanders wanting to change their sex marker on birth certificates, Minister of Internal Affairs Jan Tinetti said 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,” Minister Tinetti said.

Her comments accompany the release of the Government’s response to the recommendations of the Working Group for Reducing Barriers to Changing Registered Sex.

The Working Group’s report contained multiple recommendations to the government and Family Court.

“I am pleased to say we are implementing most of the recommendations in some form already and are making real progress,” she said.

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, but there are significant barriers to this. The Working Group has advised on ways to improve the process.

“The findings of the Working Group demonstrated the costs and complexities in changing the sex marker on a birth certificate, and showed why many people find it too difficult,” the Minister said.

“Currently, people can self-identify their gender on the driver’s licence or passport – but to change their sex on a birth certificate, they need to go to the Family Court for a declaration and provide medical evidence as part of this process.

“Things like waiving the application fees associated with this process have made a real difference, and reduced the financial burden of by up to $95.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Working Group members for developing the recommendations and helping to make the process more transparent.”

Alongside implementing the recommendations of the Working Group report, the Government is progressing work on the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Bill with the hope of passing it this year.

The Bill will enable people to self-identify their sex on their birth certificate without going to the Family Court. They will instead be able to apply online as they currently do for other identity documents, like driver’s licenses and passports.

“I will take a range of perspectives into account as I make decisions on the future of the Bill, including whether it will come before Select Committee again. It is important we get this right.

“I understand the frustrations from communities that have been fighting for these changes since 2007, and I am urgently progressing work to enable the cabinet decisions required to get the Bill moving.”

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