X for indeterminate, unspecified or intersexTrans Progressive Thursday, February 28th, 2013
Commentary: Trans Progressive
Should there be a third gender category birth certificate gender assignment? The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is considering just that after its Law Reform Advisory Council advised the government in Canberra that gender options for birth certificates and other identity documents should include the options female, male, intersex, to be advised or indeterminate.
In 2010, the U.S. State Department implemented a policy that made it possible to permanently change one’s passport gender marker without surgical intervention. The choices for gender on a U.S. passport however, are binary – the two gender marker choices are male and female.
The Australian Passport Office adopted a similar policy to the U.S. policy in 2011, and like the U.S. policy on passport gender markers those who identify themselves as a gender different than the one assigned to them at birth are able to choose their preferred gender for their passport – so long as it is supported by a statement from a doctor.
Beyond that however, the Australian government provided a third option. They also provided the option of X for “indeterminate, unspecified or intersex.” According to the Australian Passport Office, a “letter from a medical practitioner certifying that the person has had, or is receiving, appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition to a new gender, or that they are intersex and do not identify with the sex assigned to them at birth, is acceptable” to change one’s gender marker to M, F or X.
California and one other U.S. state have adopted the U.S. State Department standards for determining legal gender for state identity documents, to include birth certificates.
In a similar manner, The ACT is contemplating adopting their Australian Passport Office standards for changing their territory identity documents, to include birth certificates. And, ACT is considering it because of that Law Reform Advisory Council report entitled Beyond the Binary: Legal Recognition of Sex and Gender Diversity in the ACT.
That report, if fully implemented by ACT, would go far beyond just modifying existing birth certificates, but impact how gender is determined for children born in the here and now.
Summary recommendations in the report include changing their Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1997 (BDMRA) and Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Regulation 1998 (BDMRR). From the report:
“… to give legal recognition to sex and gender diverse people who are not defined by the female/male binary, wherever the BDMRA and BDMRR refer to two sexes, male and female, they should be amended to recognize three sex and gender identities: female, male and intersex.
The report continues:
“… the sex of a child when it is notified (s5 BDMRA; s4 (1) BDMRR) should be any of female, male, intersex, to be advised or indeterminate.”
In our California reality where Prop. 8 became enshrined in our state constitution – a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to one man and one woman – one could only imagine the monkey wrench that an officially recognized third gender marker X would throw into the legal wrangling over marriage equality.
If only our laws in California not only recognized marriage equality because it’s an equal application of the established fundamental right to marry, but because all of us don’t fit into a gender binary of male and female.
I, for one, would like to see California embrace the concept behind the Australian gender identifier of X.
Progressive politics should be forward thinking by recognizing only the gender binary of M and F are “flawed and contrary to basic biological realities.”
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