Two and a half weeks ago, two trans men from Western Australia won the right to change the sex marker on their birth certificates without their having had hysterectomies. Though this may seem rather minor from the outside, the ruling by the Western Australian State Admin Tribunal was an important victory for transsexual and transgender rights in Western Australia, moving document change away from expensive and painful genital surgery. Yesterday, however, the West Australian Attorney General Christian Porter announced that the State would be appealing the decision.
Why, you might ask? What is so important, so pressing, such a grave injustice that the WA Attorney General’s office would use taxpayers money to continue to fight a case they’ve only just recently lost? The scary transsexual men might breed. The genesis of the case I covered on Questioning Transphobia back in November last year, after the State first denied the mens’ petition. From the Australian:
After former West Australian attorney-general Jim McGinty decided to challenge the case in the tribunal, the state will argue that the possibility of pregnancy exists.
“The ability to bear children is plainly not a gender characteristic of a male,” George Tannin SC said in the State’s submission to the appeal.
“The retention of such an ability must necessarily result in the applicant not possessing the gender characteristics of a male.”
That’s right. It’s not whether they currently can bear children – because both are on testosterone and cannot – but the possibility that they might. One day. Maybe. Both men testified that they intended to take testosterone for the rest of their lives, but that apparently doesn’t suffice for the Attorney General’s office. What cannot be abided is the mere thought of a Thomas Beattie, of trans people having power over their own reproductive capacities.
Even the judgment of the tribunal victory for the two men two weeks ago makes clear that the document change was conditional on their infertility:
“Both applicants had undergone bilateral mastectomies and testosterone treatment as a result of which each had undergone extensive physical changes consistent with being male,” the tribunal said in its finding.
” … the tribunal accepted the evidence of each applicant that he intended to continue testosterone treatment for the rest of his life.
“It accepted the medical evidence that each was, and would remain, infertile for as long as he continued testosterone treatment”.
Now, the West Australian rules are inconsistent on this front with regard to trans women—our permanent sterility from estrogen counts for precisely nothing, legally speaking. This would have, I hope, given trans women a lever into another test case with non SRS based criteria. But no, first this case needs to be appealed again.
Also important to note is that this represents one half of heteronormativity—the clear exertions of the State to try to keep trans people from contaminating heterosexual reproduction with our. The other is the fact that trans people who marry pre-SRS cannot change their birth certificate either. The ostensible reason is that with the Federal ban on same-sex marriages, the State would be creating them. However, the Federal government in July suggested it would accept same-sex marriages with one transsexual partner. The point is then, that it is the West Australian State (the Gender Reassignment Board) that is working hardest, trying to “protect” the heterosexual institutions of marriage and childbirth from trans people.
So what if there’s the unlikely event that one or both of these guys has a baby sometime? So what? They and other trans people deserve the right to the correct documentation. But I know, I know, I’m living in Magic Fairy Land, where populations don’t need to be sterilised in order to not be put at risk for discrimination and violence. Back in the real world, apparently it does seem like quite a threat to the State.
** Note: Trans threads have a way of getting ugly on feminist blogs, so when commenting, please refer to trans people by their correct genders. OR ELSE.
Categories: gender & feminism