By Jan Logie, Green Spokesperson for Rainbow Issues.
OPINION: Recently, the Minister for Internal Affairs deferred a law change that could make a huge difference in the lives of some New Zealanders.
The Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration Bill – it’s a bit of a mouthful – proposed a new process for people to change the gender marker on their birth certificates. This mainly affects trans and non-binary people, who need their official documents to be accurate and consistent.
There’s a lot of fear and misinformation around this change. But the facts are pretty simple. We already have a process for people to change their birth certificates. But it’s onerous, and costly, and demeaning. And we already let people change their driver licences and passports using a statutory declaration, which is a serious, legally-binding process.
We do not believe the state should have control of anyone’s gender identity.
More than ten years ago, the Human Rights Commission made it clear. Being trans or non-binary “is simply one dimension of the rich diversity that is humanity.” And trans people are only seeking the same rights that all of us have: to live free of discrimination and fear.
This is a small procedural change that has no impact on most of us. But for the people it does impact, who can get identity documents that reflect who they really are, it’s massive.
We don’t know what the next steps in this process are, but I’m encouraging the Minister to listen to the most important stakeholders on this: trans and non-binary people, their families, and human rights advocates.
We in the Green Party are going to be working hard to make sure progress is made this term.
Because everyone has the right to live in safety, and with dignity, and this law change can ensure that happens for some of our most marginalized whānau.
Jan Logie is Green Spokesperson for Rainbow Issues.