The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Assembly approved a new law allowing transgender and intersex people the right to alter their birth certificates in a unanimous vote on March 20.
In addition to the “female” and “male” categories, there is also a third-gender option, “X.”
According to Pink News, the assembly atmosphere was “emotional,” and people cheered as Labor, Liberal, and Green Party officials all voted in favor of allowing transgender and intersex people to have their birth certificates altered to reflect their gender identity rather than the sex they were assigned at birth.
The vote was preceded by people testifying that they had experienced depression, harassment, and discrimination that could have been avoided were such a law already in place. Party representatives commended their bravery in sharing their stories.
Attorney General Simon Corbell praised the new law as a “good, indeed a great,” reflection of ACT’s support for inclusion. Though Australia’s federal government does offer recognition of same-sex couples via civil unions, attempts at legalizing marriage equality have repeatedly failed. ACT passed its own law in favor of marriage equality in December 2013, but the High Court of Australia nullified it within days of its enactment, on the grounds that “under the Constitution and federal law as it now stands, whether same sex marriage should be provided for by law (as a majority of the Territory Legislative Assembly decided) is a matter for the federal Parliament.”
Australia’s federal government grants some anti-discrimination protections regarding orientation and gender identity, but on the state and territory level, protections vary, as do the laws regarding whether same-sex couples can adopt.