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Tuesday 11 April 2017


To Be Who I Am: Progress Update

Posted in: Features, Our Communities
By GayNZ.com with Jack Byrne - 27th November 2013

***image1***In January 2008 the Human Rights Commission published To Be Who I Am the final report of its Transgender Inquiry, looking at the discrimination faced by transgender and intersex New Zealanders.

As Labour promises to take action on all the outstanding recommendations if elected, we look at how much progress has already been made and what remains to be done.

Fully achieved

  • 2009: Law change enabling overseas born NZ-citizens or permanent residents to apply for a Family Court declaration changing their sex details
  • 2012: New Department of Internal Affairs passport policy allows people to choose whether they want to have M, F or X under “sex” on their passport.
  • 2013: New NZTA driver licence policy, similar to passport policy
  • Human Right’s Commission’s education programme on trans human rights
  • Department of Labour resource Transgender People at Work
  • Search policies – consultation with police and work with government agencies

Significant progress

  • 2011: Good practice guide for NZ health professionals about gender reassignment health services. This is now due for revision
  • 2013: Transgender prisoners can make a case to be placed in a prison based on their gender identity
  • Positive visibility of transgender people, for example the Assume Nothing workshops (which attracted 1,000 people) and the exhibition (which 200,000 people saw)


Where the Human Rights Commission is filling the gap

  • Resources for schools
  • Policy for trans and intersex participation in sport

Some progress

  • Government agencies consulting with transgender people
  • Intersex human rights – Human Rights Commission’s intersex roundtables, submissions and public education workshops

Initial steps

  • Collection of gender identity and/or sex data – the Commission has made submissions to Statistics NZ and Internal Affairs on this issue
  • Initial discussions in relation to other issues for trans prisoners such as access to hormones, counselling and rehabilitation in prison
  • Work with Ministry of Justice and police on options for disclosing previous names

Limited progress

  • Ministry of Justice recording information on crimes against transgender people because of their gender identity
  • Ministry of Health and DHBs providing clear information about available gender reassignment services (Also - Concerns about cut-backs to these services in Auckland)
  • Government agencies proactively reviewing policies and practices to ensure they are inclusive and not discriminatory


Not aware of any progress

  • Insurance industry considering health insurance coverage for transgender people (or intersex adults)
  • Office of the Privacy Commissioner offering specific guidance on how privacy laws apply to personal information about transgender people
  • Ministry of Health increasing knowledge about historical and current practices in relation to intersex people
  • Work with border control agencies on how to improve the safety of people travelling with an X on their passport

No progress

  • Changing the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration Act to simplify the process for changing sex details on a birth certificate
  • Changing the Human Rights Act to clarify that protection from discrimination based on sex includes gender identity

The Human Rights Commission says since To Be Who I Am was published there has been significant progress internationally in both of these areas and the Inquiry’s recommendations are now modest compared to current international best practice such as gender recognition laws that enable birth certificates to be changed through a simple process, and gender identity being explicitly stated in anti-discrimination laws.

A group of queer, transgender and intersex New Zealanders has also made a community submission to the United Nations’ Universal Periodic Review of New Zealand’s human rights record, which takes place in Geneva in January. It picks up on outstanding issues from the Transgender Inquiry for both transgender and intersex people. GayNZ.com will have more on this soon.

Thanks to Jack Byrne at the Human Rights Commission for his help with the update!


GayNZ.com with Jack Byrne - 27th November 2013

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