Media release: Birth Certificate changes welcomed by takatāpui, trans and non-binary people

13 Aug 2018 11:13 AM | Anonymous

The PHA is one of a number of organisations who released a joint statement  outlining the benefits of updating the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act (BDMRRA) 1995.

Today’s announced changes to the process for amending gender markers on birth certifciates are welcomed by takatāpui, trans and non-binary people.
“This small but significant change will make it fairer for those in our communities, who do not have the resources to use the existing Family Court process,” said Sally Dellow.
Ms Dellow was speaking on behalf of people and organisations who released a joint statement today outlining the benefits of updating the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act (BDMRRA) 1995.
New Zealand’s passports and driver licence processes are recognised as international good practice for trans and non-binary people. Proposals announced today would introduce similar processes for updating gender markers on a New Zealand birth certificate. New Zealand will join a dozen other countries that already follow such a self-declaration approach.
“Most people in our communities can change their New Zealand passport or driver licence, but it does not match their birth certificate. That can cause significant problems when a birth certificate needs to be shown as proof of identity,” said Ms Dellow.
Today’s joint statement is supported by takatāpui, trans and non-binary people and organisations, parents of transgender and gender diverse children; national health, women’s and Rainbow organisations; legal and health academics, and former Human Rights Commissioners. It calls for the 23-year-old BDMRRA to be amended to reflect the current passports policy, by:
- replacing a Family Court application with a statutory declaration process that enables a people to affirm their self-defined gender identity
- removing any other eligibility requirements, such as the need for medical evidence and
- enabling gender markers to be recognised as male, female, or as a third, non-binary gender.
“We are delighted that the Select Committee’s recommendations reflect this approach,” said Ms Dellow. “This makes a huge difference to takatāpui, trans and non-binary people when they get married, have children, sign their parent’s death certificate, or have to show their birth certificate. It has no impact on the equivalent rights for other people.”
Moving to a simple, administrative process will reduce cost for takatāpui, trans and non-binary people, and free up the time of Family Court staff, judges, and of health professionals who have supplied the required medical evidence.
Ms Dellow said, “We hope to continue dialogue with the government on how to provide some form of identity verification document that recognises and protects refugees, asylum seekers, and new migrants who cannot amend documents in their home country and are not permanent residents here.”
“In addition, there is a need for ongoing consultation with our communities in case there are ways the Bill can be improved through its second reading.”
The Select Committee has recommended that any enacted changes are reviewed after five years. “International human rights standards and good practice are evolving fast in this area,” said Ms Dellow. “A two-year review would help New Zealand keep pace with change, so we can continue to demonstrate what it means to fully respect the dignity, equality, and security of all who live here. Our communities expect to be consulted as part of such a review.”

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Letter to the Listener 28 July 2017 in response to Fever Pitch (Listener 21 July 2017)

Catherine Woulfe’s thorough investigation of rheumatic fever brings to the surface a range of important questions not only about this cruel disease, but also wider issues about health policy. The Government’s bold initiative to reduce the incidence of rheumatic fever as one of its 'Better Public Service' targets in 2012 certainly raised awareness of rheumatic fever for the general public as well as communities and families directly affected. But even when medical science and the public have a clearer understanding of the immediate causes of rheumatic fever, interventions like the $65m ‘sore throats matter’ still won’t stop the epidemic. 

Ramona Tiatia’s blunt description of the experience of affected families not only painted a picture of the impact on affected families and communities, it also highlighted the invidious choices our health funders face.  How much should we prioritise health spending between response to the urgent need of young people whose lives and potential can be devastated by the disease versus the expense of addressing the economic and social factors that underlie the reasons we have this epidemic at all?   

As several of the clinicians interviewed pointed out, it’s only when the poverty and over-crowded housing issues are addressed that we will make a real difference.

Rheumatic fever illustrates the contradictions in our health system identified in the recent American Commonwealth Fund report. Of the 11 countries the Fund monitors, the work our health professionals do is ranked among the highest. But our overall performance as a health system falls to the middle ranking because of our poor performance on access and equity. The Fund also notes that our per capita expenditure is among the cheapest. 

Failure to invest in real prevention - that is, poverty, housing, good nutrition etc. - will continue to drive conditions like rheumatic fever, whether the immediate cause is strep throat or skin sores, until we invest upstream.

Why not spend more on these conditions - the economic and social determinants of health? 

We all pay in the long run - the young people whose misery we tolerate and whose potential remains unfulfilled, the families whose sacrifices are unrewarded, and the taxpayer who picks up the tab.

Ngā mihi,
Warren Lindberg

CE Public Health Association of New Zealand


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