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Newsletters > To Be Who I Am > 2011 > February > Update on human rights issues for trans people in NZ

To Be Who I Am

February, 2011

Cover of Human Rights in NZ 2010

The Transgender Inquiry’s final report was released two years ago. What progress has been made since then and what further changes are necessary? These questions are asked in the sexual and gender minorities’ chapter in Human Rights in New Zealand 2010. It concludes that there needs to be a continued focus on legal recognition, the rights to education and health, and explicit protection for trans people under the Human Rights Act.

 On International Human Rights Day (10 December), the Human Rights Commission launched Human Rights in New Zealand 2010. This report card identifies where New Zealand does well, and where it could do better across the full spectrum of human rights. It lists these four recommendations from the Transgender Inquiry as top priorities for improving the human rights of trans people:

  • amending the Human Rights Act to explicitly state that discrimination on the grounds of gender identity is prohibited by the ground of sex
  • amending the physical conformation threshold in section 28 of the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration Act 1995
  • sharing best practice so that trans students’ right to education is fully protected
  • building on the Counties Manukau District Health Board project to develop standards of care and treatment pathways for trans people wishing to transition physically.

 The Commission is very grateful for the large number of comments received on a draft version of this chapter. Many were incorporated into the final version.

Other highlighted concerns include:

  • violence against trans people including bullying and harassment in schools
  • the need to raise these human rights issues in all New Zealand country reports to the United Nations.

 In addition, the chapter summarises suggestions raised in two roundtables looking at the human rights of intersex people. It concludes there is a need to:

  • build understanding about the specific human rights issues faced by intersex people
  • use a human rights-based framework to develop best practice for meeting the health needs of intersex people, with a particular focus on infants with intersex medical conditions.

 Read the full Rights of sexual and gender minorities chapter  [PDF) or a summary on pages 81–86  of this Summary Report.

The Commission has selected 30 priority areas from over 100 identified by the research and public consultation process undertaken in preparing Human Rights in New Zealand 2010. Further action in these areas is essential over the next five years.

The priority area for action for sexual and gender minorities is:

  • Legal Equality: Completing the legislative steps required for formal legal equality, including rights to found and form a family regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

6 Responses to “Update on human rights issues for trans people in NZ”

  1. Allyson Hamblett Says:

    It’s fantastic to see the 4 recommendations are still seen to be top priority to improving human rights for trans people. I just hope there is a way to convince the government that the necessary law changes are a very good thing.

  2. Kathryn Says:

    So you really intend to proceed with removing the physical requirements for gender recognition?
    This will mean that “Tom Smith” who likes to wear a dress on weekends (nothing wrong with that per se, IMHO) can get legal recognition, a reissued birth certificate and a “female” NZ passport?
    If you cannot see the downstream ramifications that, and the harm it will cause to genuine, core transsexuals, then I am in despair. If there is no hope of sanity prevailing over political correctness and the machinations of those who want to be declared the opposite sex just on their say-so, then the fate of true transsexuals is sealed, and it will not be to their advantage.
    Most of us are not “out and proud” on the streets and/or in the sex industry, we just want to get our transition over and carry on living in our true gender…. our innate brain sex, not some acquired fad for entertainment or profit.
    I am appalled……..

  3. jackb Says:

    The Inquiry’s recommendation would require a trans woman to provide the Family Court with sufficient evidence that she had “taken decisive steps to live fully and permanently” as a woman – and vice versa for a trans man. That recommendation was based on international human rights standards.

  4. Rebeka J Courtney Says:

    Just so Jack!!! Bekky

  5. Phelisha Says:

    Apparently, convincing the government that the necessary law changes “are a very good thing” could be a lot easier than convincing some people within the ‘Genuine Core Transsexual’ community that some of them are not a very bad thing.

    I wonder just what harm it will cause them for Genuine Core Transgender & Whakawahine etc to have legal recognition of their permanent full-time female gender identity, and just what is ‘sane’ about denying them such recognition?

    It would appear that some people may be so obsessed with the fear of losing recognition of their own distinct & separate Transsexual identity that they have become blind or indifferent to the fact that there are others who also have identities which are equally distinct & separate from Cross Dressers, Transvestites, GenderQueer and GenderFluid etc., who are as equally deserving & in need of legal recognition & protection from discrimination.

    How any intelligent person not suffering from illogical & unfounded fear could confuse allowing people who are living permanently & full-time in their true gender such recognition & protections with allowing “Tom Smith” who likes to wear a dress on weekends to get legal recognition, a reissued birth certificate and a “female” NZ passport beats me.

  6. jackb Says:

    Further discussion about this Inquiry recommendation and other points made in the original article is welcome. People are reminded to be respectful of differing views.

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