MP walks gender laws up the aisle

MARRIED trans people in WA could soon have their gender officially recognised.

Last week Maylands MP Lisa Baker spoke in favour of the Gender Reassignment Bill 2018, which will scrap an old law that prevents a married person from being issued with a gender recognition certificate.

The vestigial law, from the days when same-sex marriage was banned, closed the loophole of a heterosexual couple getting married and then one of them officially changing genders.

Ms Baker told parliament the new legislation would improve trans people’s mental health and wellbeing.

“Members cannot possibly imagine what life must be like for people who have to go through a marriage or their lives having to deny either their gender, identity or love,” she said.

“We have already dealt with the marriage equality issue, but this is a much more endemic and personal issue. In some respects it is about how people identify as human beings at the most basic physical and cultural level.”

Mental health

Ms Baker said allowing trans people to affirm their identities on documents like government forms would boost their mental health.

The suicide attempt rate for trans adults is 11 times higher than the general population, with commentators saying the rate is exacerbated by gender dysphoria and trans people not having their gender recognised and affirmed.

Ms Baker cited the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, which stated “that for optimal physical and mental health, persons must freely [be] able to express their gender identity,” in official documents.

She said “such documents are essential to the ability of all people to enjoy rights and opportunities equal to those available to others, for instance to access accommodation, education, employment, health care, travel, to navigate everyday transitions in life, to enjoy a safe environment and, most of all, to be married and recognised for who they are”.

Ms Baker said she’d been told by trans people “that there are many people in marriages who have not been able to be public about who they are”.

Parliament is expected to vote on the bill by early December.


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