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Transgender Reform

Since the Human Rights Commission report To be who I am was published in 2008, we have been campaigning for the implementation of its recommendations. We have mostly concentrated on those reforms requiring legislative change, as they relate in particular to birth certificates, citizenship, and discrimination under the Human Rights Act. We have written to a number of Government Ministers over the years on these issues. Although there has been considerable success in a number of areas involving administrative change, legislative change has been more difficult to achieve.

To Be Who I Am which was the outcome of a wide ranging enquiry into discrimination experienced by transgender and unisex citizens.  The previous government pledged itself to the implementation of the report’s recommendations, and with the change of government we sought similar commitments.  To date the implementation of these recommendations has been slow and patchy, to say the least.

It recently became clear that, as far as the trans* community is concerned, the HRC report is being overtaken by events, and that simply concentrating on its recommendations is probably no longer the best way forward. We have been in discussion with Green MP Jan Logie, who has pointed in particular to a recent Maltese Bill which appears to cover all the main legislative issues relating to trans* rights, and could serve as a useful template for reform here. We are supporting Jan’s attempt to build up a cross-party support group in Parliament in this issue. 

Our recent Trans* Representative, Alex Kondou, a member of our Trans* community, has assisted us by updating and increasing our knowledge and awareness of trans* issues in special seminars for Board members.

In the Transgender report commissioned by the HRC and published in 2007, there are wide ranging and largely common sense recommendations which require action at the administrative level and some small but significant amendments to legislation. As there are several Ministers involved we wrote to the principal ones in the last Government, asking what they are doing to implement the report. Replies were largely along the lines of ‘we endorse the recommendations and my officials are studying these’.  

But Lianne Dalziel, as Minister responsible for the HRC, set up a process for agencies to report back to the Dept of Justice on the actions required. This report-back was due for completion in April 2009. Rainbow Wellington therefore wrote to the new Minister of Justice, Simon Power, reminding him of the need to take action on the report. Mr Power confirmed that the report-back process was continuing, and that he planned to follow the process set out by his predecessor. We will continue to keep an eye on any developments, and try to ensure that the necessary changes do not just end up on the back-burner somewhere.

The current state of play is summarised here

This page appears to be regularly updated.

A reminder that the Human Rights Commission report can be found here

Whilst there are some developments as a result of the report, progress is very slow, and much remains to be done. We have continued and will continue to apply pressure for all the report’s recommendations to be carried out, by whatever means are appropriate, and to this end have mentioned it at our meetings with the political parties, persuaded MPs to put down written questions in the House, etc. We are also very aware that the Trans* community is moving forward very quickly. We've created a strategic relationship with Agender NZ to help where we can.

Movement on these issues continues to be very slow, and we have reminded the PM of this in our open letter to him in December.

We've also been helping in areas of Trans Acceptance Legislative changes, the BDM Act 1995. Identification on documents. Submissions about amending the Human Rights Act. We even changed Rainbow Wellingtons name to reflect more that the Gay, Rainbow Wellington was formerly known as GAP (Gay Association of Professionals).We're excited by the changes in in Maltese with their Bill. We're in discussions with the NZDF (New Zealand Defence Force) about their dress regulations and talking to Corrections about the Trans* people

Rainbow Wellington wants to thank Agender NZ for championing Trans* causes and has help us by using their material for this page. For more information about them, please find their website here: