Report – Trans* and legal documents
In this report…
For trans* people in Australia, there can be a range of identity documents that you may want to change to properly reflect your preferred gender and name.
On 1 July 2013 the Australian Government Guidelines on the Recognition of Sex and Gender commenced to standardise the evidence required to establish or change your sex in all personal records. All government departments and agencies are required to progressively align their existing and future business practices by 1 July 2016.
This report provides a how-to guide on the current procedures to amend legal documents in Queensland when you change gender. It also provides information about regarding future guidelines on the recognition of sex and gender.
All information contained in this report applies to adults. Any person under 18 years of age wishing to amend any documents should seek legal advice. This report was compiled by Julia Younger and Cameron O’Reilly from the Queensland University of Technology in conjunction with the LGBTI Legal Service Inc. and with assistance from Kathy Noble from Changeling Aspects.
This report does not constitute legal advice. It contains information current as at October 2014.
Kathy Noble is an extraordinary woman. She formed an organisation called Changeling Aspects in 2002 and was a representative of Queensland at the 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day for her “extraordinary contribution to Queensland”. What is most extraordinary however is that Kathy used to be Frank. Kathy’s journey is a long and complicated one including marriage, divorce and children. At six years of age, she knew her sex and gender were not the same, but only in 2001 did she finally transition into her true self. Although she has struggled with the surgery and hormones, Kathy’s greatest struggle has been the recognition of trans* people in the Australian society. She has been a pioneer in legal reform and has fought admirably for equality for all.
Kathy is actively involved in a variety of community organisations providing support and empowerment about health and legalisation related issues, not only in Australia but also around the world. She has campaigned the Australian Government for legal reform since 2003. She has also been on the Board of The Queensland AIDS Council and the Committee of Open Doors, and was a founding member of the LGBTI Legal Service. She is also an advocate for trans* issues with the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland and the Australian Human Rights Commission, dealing with human rights advocacy and policy making.
In 2002 Kathy established Changeling Aspects as a support group for trans* people undergoing transition on the Gold Coast. As the Gold Coast no longer provides this surgery, the organisation has evolved to changing laws concerning trans* people. The website www.changelingaspects.com discusses the situation of trans* people all over the world and Kathy uses it to reach people who need help.
Kathy has bravely fought for recognition of trans* people. Her honesty, strength and passion as an advocate has seen numerous important legislative changes. She has also contributed extensively to this report and its accompanying brochures.
For more information about the impact Kathy is making to the trans* community you can visit www.changelingaspects.com and click on Kathy’s Comments, Kathy’s Writings and Advocacy. This will provide an understanding of what she has achieved in the last 11 years.
Changing sex and gender on legal documents
The following is a step-by-step process to change your gender and sex on a number of legal documents.
1. Change of name
Any person over 18 may register a change of name with the Queensland Department of Births, Deaths and Marriages. Those born outside of Australia must submit evidence of having lived in Queensland for more than 12 months. If you were born or adopted in another Australian state or territory, you will need to check that state’s procedures.
For those born or adopted in Queensland:
- Download, print and complete the form from the Queensland Government website.
- Attach your certified proof of ID documents and evidence of residency if required.
- Get an adult to witness your signature on the form.
- Pay the application fee.
- Submit your form and documents by post or visit the Brisbane Registry at 110 George Street, Brisbane.
Note: The copies of the documents you provide must be certified by a qualified witness i.e. Justice of the Peace or lawyer. The Registrar-General may refuse to register a name that is obscene, offensive, too long or not in public interest.
2. Driver’s licence
To change your gender on your driver’s licence you must submit a letter on a consulting psychiatrist’s/psychologist’s official letterhead stating:
This is to certify (your name), (new sex), formerly known as (your previous name), (previous sex), has been undergoing treatment on a gender re-assignment program and should now be regarded as permanently (new sex).
To change the gender on your driver’s licence you must also:
- Print and complete an application form (QF4214).
- Visit your local Transport and Main Roads customer service centre with:
- your application;
- evidence of identity (this can show your old name);
- evidence of name change (must show an original official change of name certificate); and
- hand in your current licence (if you cannot hand this in you will need to pay a replacement driver licence fee).
Your new licence with new name and gender will be sent to you. There is no time restriction for notifying a change of gender. For more information visit the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads website.
Gender reassignment surgery is not a prerequisite to change the sex displayed on your passport. Additionally, your birth or citizenship certificates do not need to be amended before you can apply for a passport in your preferred gender. To change the sex on your passport you must lodge an application form at an Australian Passport authorised outlet. You must meet the usual passport application requirements and pay applicable fees.
You must also provide one of the following:
- a letter from a registered medical practitioner certifying you have had or are receiving treatment for a gender transition or that you are intersex;
- Queensland Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (RBDM) revised birth certificate;
- RBDM gender recognition certificate;
- RBDM recognised details certificate; or
- Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) revised citizenship certificate (or a letter from DIAC accepting the reassigned sex and stating their records have been amended).
Note: If you have changed your name as part of your transitioning process and you have two years validly on your passport before it expires, you may be entitled to a free placement passport. This would have the same expiry date as the passport being replaced. To change your name please see section 1 in this report.
Note: The Australian Passport Renewal Application form (PC7) cannot change any detail that appeared on a previous Australian passport.
If you were born outside of Australia, you may want to apply for a new certificate of citizenship. You will need to complete both of the following forms, both of which are available from the DIAC website:
- Application for Evidence of Australian Citizenship (Form 119); and
- Request for amendment or annotation to personal records (Form 424C).
Note: You will also need to provide supporting documents, such as a change of name certificate, or evidence of gender reassignment surgery. These amendments will cost a fee.
5. Birth certificate
If you have had gender reassignment surgery and your birth or adoption was registered in Queensland, you can apply to note your sex change with the RBDM.
To amend the sex on your birth certificate you must:
- Complete online form available on the Queensland Government website and print;
- Attach certified proof of ID documents and supporting documents;
- Get an adult to witness your signature and 2 doctors to complete the statutory declaration section; and
- Pay application fee and submit form by post or at the RBDM office.
Note: Your new birth certificate will show a change of sex after sexual reassignment surgery i.e. re-registered birth.
6. Australian Electoral Roll
The Electoral Commission can change your name and gender on your registered details. You do not need to have had gender reassignment surgery to change your records. You can change your records by filling in an Electoral Enrolment form, available at the Australian Electoral Commission website.
This is a fast evolving area of law and procedure.
7. Centrelink and Medicare
Since 2013, the Australian Government does not require you to have had surgery in order to amend your sex in their records i.e. Centrelink and Medicare. The following is the new criteria, as part of the 2013 Australian Government Guidelines on the Recognition of Sex and Gender.
Changes to Medicare and Centrelink must be done in person at your local service centre. Evidentiary documentation is needed to change details, such as:
- current driver’s licence;
- birth certificate;
- marriage certificate issued by BDM (non-commemorative);
- legal documents; and
- bills such as telephone or electricity accounts.
Additional appropriate supporting documents to change your sex or genders are:
- a statement from a registered medical practitioner or psychologist;
- a valid Australian Government travel document, such as a passport that specifies your sex or preferred gender;
- an amended State or Territory birth certificate that specifies your sex or preferred gender; and
- a State or Territory Gender Recognition Certificate or Recognised Details Certificate showing a State or Territory Registrar of Birth, Deaths and Marriages has accepted a change in sex.
Note: There are two different sets of requirements for change of name and sex. The only requirement peculiar to both is the birth certificate. If you are doing both at the same time then you will need both sets of requirements.
8. Other documents
Some additional places you should look at changing your identity (though by no means an exhaustive list) include:
- Your employer;
- Service providers (i.e. phone, electricity, gas etc.);
- Banks and financial institutions;
- Insurance companies;
- Superannuation funds; and
- Other private memberships (i.e. gyms, clubs, libraries etc.).
As these are generally not public bodies, there are no strict rules regulating the process for changing gender.
Australian Government Guidelines on the Recognition of Sex and Gender
In 2009, the Australian Human Rights Commission released Sex Files: the legal recognition of sex in documents and government records. The commission recommended the Australian Government consider development of national guidelines concerning the sex and gender information from individuals.
The Australian Government Guidelines on the Recognition of Sex and Gender (the Guidelines) standardise the evidence required for a person to establish or change their sex or gender in personal records. The Guidelines commenced on 1 July 2013 and are applicable to all Australian Government departments and agencies. The relevant changes to personal records and data collection procedures must be implemented by government departments and agencies on or before 1 July 2016.
The Guidelines are an express recognition of the Australian Government’s commitment to ensuring that person records reflect individual’s identity within the community as a gender other than the sex they were assigned at birth or as an indeterminate sex and/or gender.
1. Goal of the guidelines
The Guidelines aim to:
- develop a consistent sex and gender classification system for Australian Government records;
- develop a consistent standard of evidence for people to change or establish sex and/or gender on personal records; and
- maintain consistent collection of sex and/or gender information across Australian government departments and agencies.
2. Practical effect of the guidelines
- Sex and gender classification:
Where sex and/or gender information is collected and recorded in a personal record, individuals will now have the option to select M (male), F (female) or x (indeterminate/intersex/unspecified).
- Changes to standard of proof:
Sex reassignment surgery and/or hormone therapy are not pre.requisites for the recognition of a change of gender in Australian Government records. Where a person request amendments to sex and/or gender information or where it is necessary to verify for a service or entitlement, the Australian Government will recognise any one of the following as sufficient:
- a statement from a registered medical practitioner or a registered psychologist;
- valid Australian Government travel document, such as a passport; or
- an amended State or Territory birth certificate OR a State or Territory Recognition certificate showing that a Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages has accepted a change in sex.
- Where there is a conflict in official documents, the Australian Government passport or the latest dated document will take precedence for establishing a person’s gender. While it is encouraged to ensure all documents reflect your preferred gender, it is recognised that there may be legitimate reasons for holding conflicting documents (i.e. safety while travelling overseas).
- Privacy and retaining records:
To protect identity security, only one record should be made or maintained for an individual, regardless of a change in gender or other change in personal identity (i.e. name). The individual’s history or changes of sex, gender or name is subject to appropriate security controls and is recorded and accessed only when it is strictly relevant to a decision being made.
- Commencement and implementation:
These guidelines commenced on 1 July 2013. All Australian Government departments and agencies will progressively align their existing and future business practices with these guidelines by 1 July 2016. The guidelines are not specifically implemented into legislation and may be rescinded at any time.
- Difference between sex and gender:
Gender is part of a person’s social and personal identity. It refers to each person’s deeply felt internal and individual identity and the way a person presents and is recognised within the community. A person’s gender refers to outward social markers, including their name, outward appearance, mannerisms and dress. A person’s sex and gender may not necessarily be the same. An individual’s preferred gender may or may not correspond with the sex or gender assigned at birth and some people may identify as neither male nor female.
- For the purposes of the Guidelines, sex refers to the chromosomal, gonadal and anatomical characteristics associated with biological sex.
3. More information
A full copy of the guidelines and further understanding of the issues can be obtained at the Attorney General’s Department website, available here. Feedback on these guidelines can be emailed to the Attorney-General’s Department via SexandGender@ag.gov.au.
The recommendation of this report is that the 2016 Census of Population and Housing (Census) collects data on sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status. It is difficult to recommend reform for a group of people not specifically recognised in the Census and where statistics are largely anecdotal.
The inclusion of a question on sexual identity in the next Census would provide a wealth of valuable data about LGBTI Australians. Currently the Census extends solely to same-sex couples living in the same household. Besides this, the size of the LGBTI population in Australia is based on estimates from other countries. This data varies significantly among sources due to the difference between identity, attraction and experience. Therefore, our current data collection paints a vastly inaccurate picture of the number and geographical distribution of LGBTI people living in Australia.
Access to more comprehensive and accurate information is particularly important for the development and delivery of policies and programs that aim to improve health and wellbeing. Current research suggests that the LGBTI community have particular health needs that are not being addressed. More specifically, LGBTI people are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety, attempt suicide or self-harm, misuse of alcohol and other drugs, and be subject to violence, harassment and discrimination.
Including LGBTI status in the Census would inform government and non-government health programs and policy development to ensure better resource allocation, planning and evaluation. Further, the collection of information on sexual identity will allow for education, employment, housing and social services policy development to address LGBTI discrimination and disadvantage.
In terms of gender and sex recognition, the processes underway are a step in the right direction. It is crucial that government departments and agencies are informed on the issues faced by trans* individuals and have appropriate procedures, guidelines and training in place. Continued work is needed to ensure that effective implementation of the guidelines is achieved and it is recommended that a review of the progress be undertaken in mid 2015.
LGBTI Legal Service Inc
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex Legal Service Inc. is a non-profit community based legal service that began in 2010. The service recognises the difficulties faced by the LGBTI community and seeks to assist it in gaining access to justice through the provision of legal and social welfare services. It also endeavours to provide community legal education activities and resources in order to increase awareness of legal rights and responsibilities.
The LGBTI Legal Service provides legal advice and information to clients who have legal problems that arise from their identification as LGBTI and/or because they feel more comfortable in dealing with a solicitor with specific skills, interest and understanding of LGBTI issues. They also actively participate in law reform and community education.
Changeling Aspects is a non-profit, non-government and solely privately funded organisation founded and run by Kathy Noble.
Changeling Aspects maintains a website that summarises community views by drawing on detail from not only Australia, but around the world. It provides practical, high level advice that reflects the broad range of health consumers from real life experiences. It also analyses, plans and communicates across a wide range of government and community health-related stakeholders and makes submissions to State and Federal Governmental bodies.
The Australian Transgender Support Association of Queensland (ATSAQ)
Managed by transgenders for transgenders, ATSAQ is for trans* individuals who seek social, emotional and moral support. Formed more than 10 years ago, ATSAQ provides support and information of all aspects of gender reassignment and for those who are experiencing difficulties with their gender identity. It has monthly newsletter updates and luncheons for trans* as well as their family members and friends.
Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)
PFLAG is an international peer support group for parents with sons and daughters who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans* or intersex. While it is primarily for parents, PFLAG strives to support the LGBTI community who are, or fear they may be, abandoned by their family. PFLAG Brisbane offers a wide range of services including:
- Helpline providing anonymous support;
- referrals for extra support and assistance;
- volunteers to individually meet with parents in crisis;
- regular group meetings with guest speakers;
- written resources to hasten understanding; and
- regular newsletter and updated website.
Open Doors Youth Service
Open Doors provides counselling and support services for LGBTI young people aged 12-24 and their families who live in South East Queensland. It is is a member of the National LGBTI Health Alliance, which joins a number of organisations that provide health-related programs, services and researching targeting the LGBTI community.
Open Doors aims to build resilience in young people with diverse genders and/or sexualities through facilitating opportunities to receive support that meets their identified needs. It also provides a place for young people to connect to their community in a safe, social place and facilitates positive relationships in their lives. They do this by providing support, advocacy, referral, community and capacity development as well as running a number of age-specific programs.
Transcendence Support Group
Transcendence is a support group that gathers every month organised by Relationships Australia. It is an opportunity for trans* people to gather with loved ones and fellow trans* persons. It is a social and emotional support group for trans* and gender diverse individuals.
They meet on the last Thursday of every month.
Phone: 07 3328 5500
Transbridge Support Townsville
This is a support group operating out of Townsville in Queensland, assisting trans* people crossing the gender boundaries.
The group meets every second Friday of the month.
Phone: 0412 168 299
Need further help?
Australian Human Rights Commission
02 9284 9600
This legal toolkit is not legal advice. Information contained within this document is current as at 1 October 2014.