Wellington, 28 March 2019
Despite mostly positive coverage of transgender issues by New Zealand media, Kiwis are not convinced that sex self-identification should be passed into law. Media reports that a ‘small but vocal minority’ oppose sex self-identification are simply not true; a recent survey, commissioned by Speak Up For Women and conducted by Buzz Channel Ltd, indicates that in fact 41% of the New Zealand public aged 18 years and over oppose self-identification of sex on Birth Certificates, with 29% ‘neutral’ or ‘not sure’, and just 30% in support.
In New Zealand, case law has established that there is no requirement for a transgender person to have sex reassignment surgery before applying via the Family Court to legally change the sex on their birth certificate. Only ‘medical evidence’ is required, to demonstrate that meaningful steps have been taken to transition. Sex self-ID would remove the requirement for medical evidence, and would also remove the Family Court process, requiring just a one-step statutory declaration.
Ani O’Brien, spokesperson for Speak Up For Women, says: "New Zealanders understand that our sex is a biological reality - it is our chromosomes, sex organs, secondary sex characteristics; it is coded in our DNA, and while we should support diverse gender expression, we need to do so in a way that doesn't impose the concept of ‘gender identity’ - which is essentially a belief system - on a society that, on the whole, does not subscribe to it."
“Gender identity should be protected in a way that does not redefine the meaning of the word ‘sex’ in law, or diminish the human rights protections afforded to women and girls on the basis of their sex.”
Fifty percent of respondents said that medical advice should be required to change sex on birth certificates, and 27% said they were ‘unsure’, with just 23% in favour of removing this requirement. One of the most common reasons given by survey participants for retaining medical evidence was the need for ‘professional help in the decision-making process’.
The survey revealed that just 7% of female respondents believed there had been adequate consultation on the Bill. The high proportion of female respondents indicating they were unaware of public consultation (93%) supports the government’s position that public consultation must take place before any such law changes are considered.
Ms O’Brien says: “Speak Up For Women formed to be a voice for Kiwi women where there is currently a void of advocates representing the actual needs and beliefs of women. This survey shows that we are the only group currently speaking up for the majority of Kiwis on this issue”.
- The survey was commissioned by Speak Up For Women and conducted online by Buzz Channel Ltd, between 7 - 21 February 2019, during the Speak Up For Women campaign to raise awareness about the proposals, and before Minister of Internal Affairs, Hon Tracey Martin announced she was deferring the Bill.
- The survey sample size was n = 1002, giving a margin of error of +/- 3% at the 95% confidence level.