The current legislation in Queensland ranks it as the weakest state in Australia for recognition of transgender and gender diverse people. The petition, which has garnered over 10,000 signatures since its posting on 15 February, calls for this to change.
For the LGBTQI+ community, being formally recognised in legislation has been part of a long and arduous battle, as seen with same-sex marriage legalised just over three years ago, where 38.4 per cent of voters said ‘No’.
Transgender woman, Esther Vale started the petition and expressed that “not being able to have legal documents that reflect your state of being makes you feel like a second-class citizen”.
Central to her petition is the request that fees for name and gender marker changes to be decreased or removed. The cost to change the sex on your birth certificate in Queensland is $117 and is described as a prohibitive ‘trans tax’ in Ms Vale’s petition.
The application process for reassignment of sex in the birth registry requires the individual to have undergone gender reassignment surgery (GRS). On top of that, declarations from two doctors which verify the individual’s surgery are required. However, this is a luxury which is not financially viable for all transgender people. A procedure cost estimate for a transwoman is $30,000 though have been known to reach $100,000.
“It’s all part of these systems of oppression that make it harder for minority people to be who they want to be and take their place in society. I think it has broad ramifications upon your livelihood,” Ms Vale said.
Krissy Johnson, 58, has worked for the Australian Transgender Support Association of QLD (ATSAQ) for 30 years. She expressed the hardship and trauma involved in two doctors having to sign off on her GRS in the late eighties in order to change the sex on her birth certificate.
Ms Johnson said that one of the primary things ATSAQ comes across is people who are not able to have GRS due to medical conditions and therefore by law do not qualify for a name change, “even though they live as the other sex 24/7 and have done for over twenty years”.
“There are so many of us out there, so many young children, teenagers, youths up to 25 – they don’t need all this extra financial stress.”
It is a “lack of gumption” present in the state’s government which Ms Johnson blames for the delay in recognition of the trans community. She said that they continuously give false promises whilst the survival of transgender people comes at a cost.
“We have teenagers out there that can’t move forward, they can’t do anything, they feel frozen, they can’t go get jobs because they’re name says Sarah, but anotherpiece of paper says they’re a boy.”
If the requests in the petition are met, it will be a step towards more progressive legislation and will have “a meaningful impact on the livelihood and stress that a lot of trans people go through,” Ms Vale said.
Lara graduated from Monash University with a Bachelor of Arts (Hon.), with majors in journalism and human rights and then went on to complete an Honours year in Journalism. Lara was a contributing writer to Esperanto Magazine during her Honours and has done freelance writing. She has a passion for storytelling and moving people, with an avid interest in documentary filmmaking and podcasting.