1 NEWS Reporter
People wanting to change their birth certificate to reflect their gender identity may soon find it easier under changes recommended by MPs.
A report released yesterday by the Governance and Administration Committee has recommended that people be able to change the nominated sex on their birth certificate to 'intersex' or 'X' (unspecified) in line with how they self-identify.
The recommendations include removing the current requirement of providing medical evidence.
The select committee has also recommended birth certificate change applications go straight to the Registrar-Generals office rather than through the Family Court as the current Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration Act 1995 prescribes.
The committee stated in its recommendation that the current law "was progressive in 1995 but is now outdated and inconsistent with global developments".
The recommendations have been welcomed by the non-binary, intersex and transgender communities.
Speaking on behalf of Gender Minorities Aotearoa, a collective of organisations supporting gender identity law reform, Sally Dellow said they are very pleased with the proposed changes.
"Most people in our communities can change their New Zealand passport or driver license, but it does not match their birth certificate - that can cause significant problems when a birth certificate needs to be shown as proof of identity".
"This small but significant change will make it fairer for those in our communities, who do not have the resources to use the existing Family Court process," Sally Dellow said.
Ms Dellow said Family Court process was often costly and required medical evidence from health professionals.
The Human Rights Commission has said the recommended changes bring New Zealand in line with international human rights law.
The Commission's Human Rights Gender Identity Advisor, Taine Polkinghorne, said the change will help reduce discrimination transgender, intersex and non-binary people face by enabling them to update their documents more simply.
"The current practice of restricting the change of nominated sex on a birth certificate to binary options, fails to accommodate the range of gender identities that individuals may have," Mr Polkinghorne said.
"A person's gender identity is one of the most intimate areas of a person's private life. The right to self-identification and recognition before the law is not a special right. It is a human right," he said.
By Janet McIntyre
She's like a kitten – with her springy limbs and bright, wide eyes. She giggles, shrieks and darts around the room to Demi Lovato, then smooches up to me and whispers in my ear: "I dare you to ask Gary (the cameraman) out for dinner!" Little minx!
Just as she catches my heart she breaks it. "I'm not like other kids, I'm not special ... I don't even know if I'm meant to be here."
Grace, a name we have given her, is only 11 but she's old enough to understand the bullet point in her medical records – "Exposed to P in utero".
"When I was in my Mum's stomach she was taking the drugs and so the drugs went into me. And I kind of ended up the way I am."
It's true. Her mum Sharon confirmed on the phone she used meth in her pregnancy, but in her defence, she said, "only in the first 11 weeks".
Grace was removed from the family home when she was 3 after it was proved Sharon was still using P.
Research into the effects of methamphetamine on children is scarce. Professor Trecia Wouldes of Auckland University is doing the only long term study in the world, assessing the development of 107 New Zealand children over the past twelve years.
"For those who continue to live in environments where there's mental illness, where there’s ongoing drug use, and where they've had that prenatal exposure - the outlook is not good."
She says six and a half year olds have poor memory, emotional and behavioural problems. "They're the kids in the classroom that are going to get kicked out of school and then by nine or 10 are going to start using drugs". But she says these problems are not unfixable.
Professor Wouldes is calling for all women to be screened for P during pregnancy, and for those identified and their babies to get access to the treatment they need. A mum who continues to abuse substances through her pregnancy is likely to return to a toxic environment of drugs and violence she says. "It's a double whammy for a child, already exposed to drugs".
She says we don't know yet how these children will be effected as adults.
Grace snuggles into the plump arms of her Nana who's now raising her and finds the sweet spot.
"I feel safe that I'm not going to be hurt. I have my Nana and my Poppa and two teacher aides and I've got the whole school supporting me".
Grace is so worth it. She has intelligence, insight and resolve way beyond her years and with the right help her carers think she can flourish.
"I'm going to be brave, I'm going to be strong, I'm not going to let anything get to me."