Recognition of Non-Binary Genders on Birth Certificates: The Case for Gender Abolitionism from Queer & Feminist Perspectives

This is the critical essay based upon my earlier Project Proposal, which you can read here. I achieved 20/20 for my Project Proposal, and this Major Project (my critical essay) achieved 60/60.

Introduction

Considering the important, if not central, place that the law plays in the development and maintenance of social regulation,[1] it is not surprising to see how entrenched the heteronormative/cis-normative conception of sex/gender is within Australian law.[2] This paper will examine the current position in law regarding the recognition of transgender, intersex and other non-binary genders within Australian law,[3] focusing on the ability given to adults to register change from their assigned sex/gender at birth in acknowledgement of their self-identified gender outside the gender binary. This will involve an examination of the historical development of the understanding of sex/gender in UK, Australian and international law, [4] before turning to a close examination of the current Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration (‘BDMR’) laws in Queensland (as an example of the continued persistence of a bio-medical model[5] within Australian law), compared to the more progressive reforms in Tasmania and Victoria (as examples of a move towards a self-identification model of sex/gender).[6]

My critique will involve exploring various aspects of queer and feminist theories that relate to how sex/gender could be conceptualised, the relationship between embodiment and gender, sex as biological fact versus gender as social construct, and of the concept of ‘value-free science’.[7] Applying these various theoretical perspectives, I will critique the relevance of gender in law, and argue for developing towards a genderless society – as envisioned by certain queer and feminist theorists.[8]

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Recognition of Non-Binary Genders on Birth Certificates

Recognition of Non-Binary Genders on Birth Certificates: A Comparison of Biomedical vs Self-Identification Models Underlying State BDMR Laws, with Reference to Feminist & Queer Theories of Sex, Gender and Embodiment

This is the Project Proposal for my current Critical Research Essay for my Gender & The Law Course. I hope my readers appreciate it. I’ll be working on the actual Major Project which will be due in mid-October. Here is the published Major Project (critical essay) which achieved 60/60.

Introduction – Topic Outline

I will be investigating the different models of sex/gender underlying the current differences in legislation regarding change of sex/gender in Queensland[1] compared to more progressive legislation in Victoria[2] and Tasmania.[3] Queensland’s law requires ‘sexual reassignment surgery’,[4] defined as:

A surgical procedure involving the alteration of a person’s reproductive organs carried out – (a) to help the person to be considered to be a member of the opposite sex; or (b) to correct or eliminate ambiguities about the sex of the person.[5]

Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 2003 (Qld), sch 2 (definition of ‘sexual reassignment surgery’).

In contrast, the Victorian and Tasmanian legislation has recently been reformed in 2019 to allow a person to make a declaration of their gender identity based on their own self-identification.[6] Thus, on a spectrum between the traditional gender binary based on the biomedical model and an acknowledgment of gender diversity, based upon an individual’s self-identification of gender identity, Queensland’s law is still closer to the traditional biomedical model, whereas Victoria and Tasmania are much closer to a more progressive self-identification model.

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