July 13th 2019

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Transgender birth certificates: No sex, please, we're Victorian

EDITORIAL Laws, sporting bodies, the AHRC: Abolishing women's rights in sport

CANBERRA OBSERVED Did Turnbull attempt the constitutional gambit?

FOREIGN AFFAIRS China kills prisoners on an industrial scale to obtain transplant organs

NATIONAL AFFAIRS A Q&A to clarify issues in Cardinal Pell's appeal

REFLECTION ON GENDER Male and female He created them: A teaching moment

HISTORY OF SCIENCE Faith and reason and Father Stanley Jaki, Part 5: The cosmos in the New Testament

CULTURE OF DEATH Melinda Gates and other wealthy lemmings lead the race to dusty death

EUTHANASIA Death comes to the Garden State: A blunt view

ASIAN HISTORY Dien Bien Phu: Curtain raiser to bigger conflict

HISTORY AND RELIGION Faith in reason alone gives more heat than light

BOOK REVIEW Roadmap to the law and transgenderism

HUMOUR The last act is bloody ...

MUSIC Dull Tune? Arrangements can be made

CINEMA Tolkien: Captures the storyteller but not the man

BOOK REVIEW We have nothing to fear but fear itself

BOOK REVIEW The days of calm before the storm

NATIONAL AFFAIRS High power prices lead to more deaths of elderly

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COVER STORY Transgender birth certificates: No sex, please, we're Victorian

by Terri M. Kelleher

News Weekly, July 13, 2019

Can you change your age on official forms? Should a 40-year-old be allowed to identify as 70 and change their age to 70 and claim the age pension? Can a person change their race to the race they identify as and claim benefits enjoyed by persons of that race? Can a person self-identify as disabled and claim a disability pension? Can a person change their species?

Victorian commemorative blue and pink

birth certificates. What were they thinking?

Well, the Births Death and Marriages Registration Act Amendment Bill, just introduced into the Victorian Parliament by Daniel Andrews’ ALP government, would allow a person to change their sex on their birth certificate to the gender they self-identify as. And this can be done without gender-reassignment surgery. It would also allow applicants to self-nominate the sex listed on their birth registration as male, female, or any other gender-diverse or non-binary descriptor of their own choice.

A similar bill was defeated in November 2016.

Freedom to identify as you wish already exists

If a person wants to identify as a gender other than their biological sex, they are free to do so. That is one of the privileges of living in a free democracy. If a person wants to identify as any of the 58 gender identities one can use on Facebook or any of the 112 options identified on the Tumblr master list, again they are free to do so.

But can the Government and those supporting the Bill answer the following questions in a way that assures all Victorians that others will not be adversely affected by the perhaps unintended consequences of this Bill?

Is it fair to oblige biological women to accept biological men who identify as women in their sporting competitions? Will such acceptance lead to men who identify as women dominating in women’s sports? Is it fair to oblige biological women to accept men who identify as women in their private safe spaces such as women’s refuges?

Is it fair to oblige biological girls to share girls’ toilets, change rooms, showers, and school camp accommodation with a biological boy who identifies as and is recorded as a girl on his birth certificate? This would allow 17-year-old biological boys into the same toilets and change rooms as 13-year-old girls.

Is it fair to invade girls’ privacy at such a sensitive age. Doesn’t this have the poten­tial to create a risk of sexual assault or abuse?  Can the safety of girls be assured?

Should all persons convicted of crimes be accommodated in prisons according to their birth sex or according to how they identify on their birth certificate? Attorney-General Jill Hennessy said that removing the requirement for gender-reassignment surgery for a person to change their sex on their birth certificate is “removing [a] cruel and unfair barrier”.

But doesn’t this create a situation that is unfair and dangerous for biological women, that would allow a male-to-female transsexual simply to identify as female, change their sex on their birth certificate to female, and gain access to women’s prisons and safe places, where there have already been numerous instances of sexual assault and rape?

The latest recorded instance was as recently as 2018 in the case in Britain of Helen White. In Australia there was the dreadful case of Maddison Hall, a biological male convicted of murder who began transitioning male-to-female in jail and was moved to a women’s prison where he gained a reputation as a sexual predator and was charged with raping his cellmate.

How will the “#MeToo” movement deal with a biological male who identifies as female, then sexually assaults women? Will they support “her”? If a biological male sex abuser changes his sex to female after being charged for abusing women, or a biological woman is assaulted by a husband/partner who was born male but identifies as female, is this to be recorded as a case of male-on-female or female-on-female sexual violence?

The questions accumulate

Will women-only gyms and clubs be obliged to give biological men who identify on their birth certificate as women, with or without sex-change surgery, access to their facilities?

Will female beauty parlour employees face discrimination charges for failing to provide intimate services such as body waxing to biological men who identify as women on their birth certificate?

Will sports coaches and officials face discrimination charges for failing to allow biological men who identify as women on their birth certificate to participate in women’s sports?

Will employers face legal sanctions for failing to allow biological men who identify on their birth certificate as women to access jobs and scholarships reserved for women under women’s affirmative action programs?


The Bill would also allow children and young people (under 16) to alter the sex on their birth certificate, provided they have parental support and a statement from a doctor or registered psychologist stating that the decision is in their best interests.

At what age does a child have the capa­city to decide to change their sex or gender? At age five, nine, 13 or 16?

Given that most children under 16 would not have experienced sexual intimacy or seriously considered the possibility of having their own children as adults, should a change of sex on birth certificates be restricted to adults only? Should the idea that children can change their sex or gender on their birth certificate be taught in schools, and at what age: Year 12, Year 6, in kindergarten?

Every person should be treated with respect and consideration. But should that extend to recording on a person’s birth certificate, their prime identity document, something that differs from the biological fact and that carries the risk of serious unintended consequences for others?

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