“Self Declared” Sex Changes Risk Women’s Rights.

This press release was originally published on Scoop on August 13, 2018.

The recommendation by Select Committee to remove all safety mechanisms from the legal sex change process puts women and girls in danger.

Brett Hudson of the National Party has championed the move to allow people to “self-identify” as the opposite sex without any requirement for medical treatment or demonstrable transition. While this issue is being cast in the media as ‘LGBT’ legislation, we as Lesbians firmly disagree with it.

This move will make it impossible for females to retain the right to female-only or lesbian-only spaces, services and provisions – as any male can simply declare he is female and have every legal right to use them. ‘Self declared sex’ risks the safety of women in prisons, the continuation of women-only and lesbian-only organisations, and ultimately renders the sex discrimination protections in the Human Rights Act meaningless.

If a fully grown male can be legally recognised as female, then what does the word ‘female’ continue to mean? Does Brett Hudson believe a biological male may ever need a hysterectomy, endometriosis treatment or an emergency c-section to deliver a baby? Presumably not. What does Hudson propose all women have in common that makes us different from men, if not biology?

At present, New Zealand law requires a burden of proof in order to change legal sex. There is a family court process to ensure abusers do not take advantage of the system. A shift to simply filling out a form to change sex shows a disregard for women’s human rights.

Because we are a feminist group, the LRAA see the concept of ‘Gender Identity’ as regressive, sexist and homophobic. Gender is the social stereotypes that are assigned to men and women based on sex. Identifying with the stereotype (masculinity or femininity) associated with the opposite sex does not make you that sex. By encoding into New Zealand law that legal sex is about which stereotype one identifies with, our politicians are threatening generations of gains by the women’s liberation movement.

We call on Parliament to examine the repercussions of this bill and for women, especially Lesbians, to speak out against a bill that threatens our rights. Being a woman isn’t about stereotypes. It’s about being an adult human female, which is a material reality that cannot be ‘identified’ into.

It’s 125 years since Meri Te Tai Mangakāhia, Kate Sheppard and thousands of other women fought for women’s rights on the basis of sex. We are continuing their legacy today.


Background Information:

– The Youth’12 Survey suggests a prevalence of 1.2-4 transgender identified people per 100 New Zealanders. That’s 60,000-188,000 people in New Zealand.

– 65-70% of the legal sex changes through the family court process the last ten years were males becoming legally recognised as female. (Department of Internal Affairs, OIA)

– The long-term follow-up study by Dhejne et al. (2011) found that males who identified as transgender retained a male pattern crime rate, including violent crime.

– Other areas impacted by this policy change include: The collection of sex-based statistics and research, the existence of female only support groups, clubs, rape crisis centres, schools (including dormitories), female-only changing rooms or sleeping arrangements (including refuges and army barracks), prisons, scholarships and sports.

–  New guidelines came into place in March 2018: Where a prisoners’ birth certificate has been amended to record a different sex from that recorded at birth, the prisoner MUST be placed in accordance with the revised certificate.  (Previously, trans-identifying prisoners were ineligible for transfer if they were serving for a serious sexual offence, under remand for such, or have previously served a sentence of imprisonment for a serious sexual offence committed against a member of the sex to which they identify.)

– These proposed changes also violate the Convention of Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women which New Zealand ratified in January 1985, particularly Article 5: “States Parties shall take all appropriate measures: (a) To modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women, with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudices and customary and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women.”

– The full LRAA submission to the Governance and Administration Select Committee can be read here.

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