Speak Up for Women's public event in Auckland on 26 February opened up debate about sex self-ID. The speakers presented rational and insightful discussion on the rights of women and of transgender people.
Speak Up For Women - Ani O'Brien
MP Louisa Wall
Professor Alison Heather (Physiology, University of Otago)
Julian Norman, Human Rights Barrister
Professor Rosa Freedman, (Professor of Law Conflict and Global Development, University of Reading)
On the eve of the event the government announced the Birth Deaths and Marriages Bill (BDMRR) has been put on hold to allow time for public submissions. The Bill would have allowed people to change the sex on their birth certificate by simply filling out a form.
Speak Up For Women’s spokesperson Ani O’Brien gave the background to the campaign. She recounted the resistance women faced in getting recognised as stakeholders in this debate. There have been slurs and attacks made against people defending privacy, dignity and fairness for women. She acknowledged NZ First MP Tracey Martin for now accepting that there needs to be public consultation.
Labour MP Louisa Wall who has been a vocal supporter of sex self-ID, conceded that the self-ID clause had been put into the Bill after submissions from the public had closed and that there had not been public consultation. She maintained her support for self-ID and her belief that transwomen are women.
Professor Alison Heather, a professor of physiology at University Otago, explained the multiple effects of testosterone in male foetal development and that these hormonal effects do not diminish later in life.
Two speakers from the UK joined the meeting via video-link. Rosa Freedman, Professor of Law Conflict and Global Development, University of Reading, said: “From the Universal Periodic Review (where UN Member States review countries’ Human Rights records) NZ accepted 11 recommendations specifically focusing on women’s rights and discrimination against women. This is something that NZ ought to be worried about. To have 11 recommendations around pay gap, education, equality etc means there needs to be two fights in NZ: A fight for females and a fight for trans individuals”
Julian Norman, Human Rights Barrister, said: “It should not be beyond the wit of our legislature to protect the rights of trans people to live freely, while also ensuring that women and girls’ current rights are maintained and strengthened”
Speak Up For Women are preparing now to participate in the consultation process to ensure women’s voices are heard.