Louisa Wall’s opinion piece in the New Zealand Herald (29 November 2018) misrepresents our position.
Speak Up For Women was formed in opposition to the government’s proposal that the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration Bill be amended to provide that any person can change the sex recorded on their birth certificates via statutory declaration alone. There will be no need for any medical evidence, treatment or even a change in appearance.
This significant law change was not signalled when the BDMRR Bill was first introduced into Parliament, but was raised at the Select Committee stage.
Its genesis is a petition started by trans woman activist Allyson Hamblett, which attracted 53 signatures. Self-ID has not been the subject of proper policy analysis, impact assessment or public consultation. The proposed changes were pushed through despite concerns raised in the initial stages by the Department of Internal Affairs, and took a lot of people by surprise.
By way of contrast, similar proposals in the United Kingdom resulted in a three month public consultation, and the government has committed to retaining sex-based protections for women and girls under their equalities legislation.
Speak Up For Women believes this change will have significant consequences for women and girls, for example in relation to: access to single-sex spaces and services (changing rooms, schools, Girl Guides, prisons, shelters and crisis centres); meaningful records and statistics (crime, health, employment, pay gap); female sports; and female scholarships and quotas.
The Human Rights Act 1993 recognises these concerns, by providing for exceptions to the general prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of sex, for reasons of privacy, safety and fairness.
Speak Up For Women is a diverse, and non-partisan group of ordinary New Zealanders. We have always been clear that we support the rights of transgender people to identify how they wish, without fear of discrimination. We are not trans-exclusionary: in fact we have received messages of support from members of the trans community and, in the United Kingdom, some of the most outspoken critics of sex self-ID are trans people.
We are dismayed by the way in which some government MPs have sought to shut down the debate by demonising critics in inflammatory terms, using manipulative and irresponsible references to suicide, and by misrepresenting human rights law.
What has been lost sight of is the fact that transgender people in New Zealand already have the ability to change the sex on their birth certificates, via a Family Court process that involves medical oversight.
Speak Up For Women supports the status quo, and supports retention of the sex-based protections under the Human Rights Act. We believe this strikes an appropriate balance in an area where there is growing recognition of the potential for conflict between transgender rights and the rights of women.