Tuesday, February 26, 2019

In support of gender self-identification

Yesterday, in a shock move, the government deferred the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Bill. The Bill updates our archaic practices for changing gender on a birth certificate from having to go to court and provide evidence of (often unavailable) surgery to a simple statutory declaration. It would have brought the law into the 21st century, made it consistent with existing practice around passports and driver's licences, and most importantly, respected the basic dignity of trans- and intersex people by ensuring their records reflected their gender. But that apparently was too much for the reactionary bigots in NZ First, so instead we have another round of "public consultation", which means another round of hate.

As the Privacy Commissioner has pointed out, this is about dignity. People shouldn't have to be humiliated and misgendered if they want to open a bank account, apply for a student loan, or apply for a job. It is that simple. Anyone who thinks we don't need to change this law is simply an arsehole.

Its unclear at this stage whether NZ First will ever vote for the bill, and National are (as usual) keeping silent on a key issue of dignity (which is better than opposing it, I suppose - but its also a telling silence). The Right to Self ID campaign is encouraging people to write to their MPs (or to NZ First MPs) to tell them why the bill matters. That might do some good, and at least it might provide them a contrast from the flood of mail they're no doubt receiving from bigots. But ultimately, if we want change, we need to vote for it. If we want better laws, we need better MPs. Again, its that simple.