National News

Gender groups back birth certificate bid

Victorians will no longer need surgery to change gender on their birth certificate, under a proposed new law described by supporters as a step forward for transgender rights.

The state Labor government on Tuesday reintroduced a bill to parliament which, if passed, will allow applicants to choose their birth certificate gender as male, female or another non-binary option.

This alters the current law that requires an individual to undergo gender reassignment surgery before their birth certificate can be changed, and brings the state in line with the Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory, SA, Tasmania and WA.

"The current surgery requirement sends a painful and false message that there is something wrong with being trans, gender diverse or intersex that needs to be 'fixed' - that's why we're removing this cruel and unfair barrier," Attorney-General Jill Hennessy said in a statement.

Children will also be able to apply to alter the gender on their birth certificate but only with the backing of their parents and a supporting statement from a doctor, registered psychologist or authorised party who can confirm it would be in the child's best interest.

Transgender Victoria chair Brenda Appleton said the reforms would have enormous benefits.

"This is a profoundly important reform for our community, as many of us are currently prevented from changing the most basic form of documentation to reflect our true identity," Ms Appleton said.

Trans people face problems every day accessing services and facilities "because of our identity documents not matching who we are," she added.

Trans person Yves Rees said if passed, the law would put an end to trans people being forced to 'out' themselves.

"If you have to show ID which reveals the fact that you were assigned different sex at birth, you don't know how people are going to react," Rees said.

The parliamentary bill remains unchanged since it was narrowly voted down in 2016.

The opposition at the time said the bill went "too far" and was driven by "ideology, not common sense".

Opposition Leader Michael O'Brien, elected to the position after November's election, told reporters on Tuesday the coalition would wait to see detail before deciding on a position.

Critics, including NSW professor of paediatrics John Whitehall, labelled the law a "propaganda victory".

"This is ratifying the concept that gender is fluid and not binary," he told 3AW.

Catholic priest Tony Kerin said the church did not "approve or appreciate" the proposed reform.

"When it comes to gender, we stick with the science, we count chromosomes," he told ABC radio.

Mental Health and Equality Minister Martin Foley hit back at detractors, urging them to be compassionate.

"I would ask people to just reflect and if this was your family member, if this was you, if this was your child, how would you want to treat them?"

© AAP 2019