According to local LGBTIQ+ groups, the Western Australian(WA) Government has failed to deliver on its promise to scrap the Gender Reassignment Board, leaving lives in limbo and plans on hold.
The WA Government pledged to abolish the board last December and remove the barriers faced by trans and gender-diverse people who wish to update their birth certificates to accurately reflect their gender.
On Wednesday 21 December 2022, WA Attorney-General John Quigley announced the new interim president, Grantham Kitto, would be appointed to lead the Board until the new legislation was implemented.
Mr Kitto, a lawyer of 30 years, had been a member of the Board since February 2009 and was to be focused on prioritising existing applications on the waitlist.
Since then Mr Kitto has resigned and a new president was only appointed in late October. Board meetings where applications are assessed cannot be held without the Chairperson and currently, there are still 18 applications waiting with four in progress.
Stevie Lane from Rainbow Futures WA, a consortium of WA-based LGBTIQA+ community organisations and individuals concerned with the long-term well-being of the community said the Government publicly committed to scrapping the board a year ago and that commitment has hung over our heads ever since.
“People born in WA are trapped in an outdated system that still requires them to prove who they are in front of a board,” Lane said.
“For me, as a non-binary person, it’s a system that doesn’t even acknowledge my existence.
“Right now, there are hundreds of people across the state who are living in limbo. The Government made a commitment to the LGBTIQ+ community and people have been expecting them to act on it.
“We’re tired of hearing the same promises over and over again while WA continues to fall behind the rest of the country.”
The suggested reforms and abolishing the Gender Assignment Board are to complement the Government’s commitment to introduce a new Equal Opportunity Act for Western Australia, which will provide anti-discrimination protections to those who are trans, gender-diverse or non-binary without the need for recognition from the Gender Reassignment Board, and bring WA into line with most other jurisdictions in Australia.
A WA Government spokesperson said the legislation is currently under development.
“Western Australia’s proposed reforms take into account the extensive 2018 review and report by the WA Law Reform Commission (“Project 108 – Review of Western Australian legislation in relation to the recognition of a person’s sex, change of sex or intersex status”),” the Spokesperson said.
“Western Australia has had laws since 2000 which provide a mechanism for persons to change the sex classification on birth certificates. However, this process requires the use of the Gender Reassignment Board. The reforms will abolish the Board and replace it with a new, streamlined administrative process for sex and gender recognition.
Dr Thomas Drake-Brockman, Chairperson of TransFolk of WA said trans and gender-diverse people simply want their birth certificates to reflect who they truly are.
“The Board is an ongoing injury and impediment to the dignity and wellbeing of trans and gender diverse Western Australians,” Drake-Brockman said.
“Repeated delays and dysfunction only serve to further demonstrate that the Board must be abolished. These reforms are too important to put off until after elections or to delay for political reasons.
“TransFolk encourages the Cook government to make good on commitments to abolish the Gender Reassignment Board without delay.”
The WA Spokesperson said the State Government is 100 per cent committed to new Equal Opportunity legislation.
“We are continuing to engage with stakeholders in relation to this important reform, as legislation is drafted,” the spokesperson continued.
“This is complex reform which is in line with the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia’s recommendations.
“The Australian Law Reform Commission is also due to report in December in relation to federal anti-discrimination laws. The State Government will consider the report and the Federal Government’s response as drafting continues.
“The Cook Government will introduce the equal opportunity legislation to Parliament as soon as it is ready.”
Last Updated on Nov 27, 2023