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Support for measures to allow children to amend gender

Support for measures to allow children to amend gender on their birth certificates

Parents of transgender children have joined other groups in the rainbow community in welcoming today’s announced changes to the process for amending gender markers on birth certificates.

“These changes are a critical step in enabling parents to support their children to live happy, safe and productive lives in their affirmed gender,” said Sharyn Forsyth.

Ms Forsyth was speaking on behalf of the organisation NZ Parents and Caregivers of Transgender and Gender Diverse Children, a group representing over 230 families, who joined other people and organisations in releasing a joint statement today outlining the benefits of updating the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration Act (BDMRRA) 1995.

Proposals announced today join a number of other countries in introducing a self-declaration approach to enable the updating of gender markers on New Zealand birth certificates. The proposals allow for children and young people under the age of 18 to complete the self declaration process with support from their guardians and a health professional. Those under the age of 16 would be required to confirm this change when they turn 18.

“Currently, changing a gender marker for a young person under the age of 18 requires an intrusive process overseen by the Family Court. The Court is required to specify medical treatment for the young person. The process is costly and intimidating for families and presents a barrier to doing what current psychological best practice tells us to do for our transgender young ones - supporting them to live normal lives”, said Ms Forsyth.

“Some of our children have been living in their affirmed identity since a very young age”, Ms Forsyth added. “In society, they have often always been known as a gender that differs from that noted on their birth certificate. Given birth certificates are a generally accepted form of identity, being able to amend the gender marker to match their lived identity protects them from being ‘outed’ as transgender. Research tells us that supporting our children in their affirmed gender leads to the best outcomes for their mental health, in a context where transgender children are at increased risk of suicide and self harm due to lack of societal acceptance. We applaud the select committee for listening to our concerns and for helping us keep our vulnerable children safe.”

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