Monday, 17 March 2008

Focus on transgender rights 4: Transgender gets passport without "right" birth certificate

In Abrams v Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade,

the Administrative Appeals Tribunal has held that it may not be necessary to obtain a birth certificate showing the correct gender when applying for a passport. It did so when Grace Abrams, who had undertaken gender reassignment surgery from male to female, applied for a passport.

The problem was that Grace was married. Because NSW law (as in all States) required her to be unmarried to enable change of gender on the birth certificate, the gender shown on the certificate was that of her birth- male, not female.

In addition to her own evidence, Grace was able to show from medical certificates, drivers licence, Medicare card, bank accounts and third party identification, that she had undergone gender reassignment surgery, and was female.

The AAT found that Grace’s inability to provide a birth certificate from the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages that recorded her female gender, when it was prevented by state legislation, was not a valid ground for rejecting her passport application, where her identity could be satisfactorily established by other means. The Department was directed to issue her passport.

Note: In Queensland, if the person lives and was married overseas, the person may still be able to obtain a birth certificate showing their correct gender, despite the legislation stating quite the contrary, due to an administrative ruling some years ago by the then Attorney-General, Rod Welford.

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