In November 2022, we will be launching a free online course on relationships and sex for transgender adults.
Whats in the course
The course will cover foundational knowledge, our relationships with ourselves and our bodies, communication, relationships, safer sex, and better sex.
It has around 12 hours of content, including videos, workbooks, and articles. It includes collaborations with Intersex Aotearoa, Adult Toy Megastore, NZPC Aotearoa – New Zealand sex workers’ collective, Dr Jen Hayward, and Burnett Foundation Aotearoa.
The course is generously funded by Te Puna Aonui – diverse community initiatives fund for sexual violence prevention.
Keep up to date
If you would like to receive updates on the course, you can follow our blog using the ‘subscribe’ box in the main menu. You can also see our online courses by clicking the button below.
Today we’re sharing with you a draft of one of our videos – Solving Relationship Issues.
The voice files in this video are temporary – we’re looking for transgender voice actors in Aotearoa.
All of our scripts are single voice and non-sync. We’re looking for one voice actor per character, with a total of 30 characters of varying ages and genders, and scrips ranging from 29 words to around 1,000 words. The average file length is 50 words.
We’re looking for a professional job with a quick turn around. Scripts will be sent to our voice actors on September 26th, and we will need the completed files in WAV or MP3 format by October 3rd (1 week).
If you’re interested in applying, please send us your portfolio and prices by September 22nd, to firstname.lastname@example.org
Rainbow Support Collective is holding a series of free online workshops as part of it’s Be There awareness campaign for whānau.
If you are a parent or whānau member of a rainbow young person, these workshops are for you. You will learn tips from Gender Minorities Aotearoa and other Rainbow organisations, and have the opportunity to share experiences with other parents and whānau.
We are carrying out an assessment of sexual violence and family violence support services across the country to see how ready they are to work with transgender and intersex people. Please help us complete this important piece of work by filling out our survey.
Who this survey is for
If you are a member of an organisation that provides sexual violence and family violence services, the first survey is for you.
Help us identify what current knowledge and capabilities are available for transgender, takatāpui and intersex communities, and how you could be better supported in your work.
If you are transgender or intersex, and have ever wanted to get support, tried to get support, or received services from any organisation in relation to sexual violence, partner violence, or family violence, the third survey is for you.
The questions are about what kind of support is available and what kind of support you provide or have tried to access, not about violence that you have experienced. However, we understand that the survey may lead you to think about traumatic or distressing experiences. If you feel distressed or need trauma support while answering this survey, there are contact details for support agencies on the TOAH-NNEST website below.
This is our submission to Department of Internal Affairs, on the proposed self-identification regulations. Submissions are due today at 5pm. If you haven’t made a submission yet, but you’s like to support our submission, you can email email@example.com and tell them you support our submission.
Submission to Te Tari Taiwhenua – Department of Internal Affairs. The self-identification regulations and recognising gender for people born overseas. PART ONE: Details of the self-identification process.
Gender Minorities Aotearoa is a nationwide transgender organisation. It is run by and for transgender people; including binary and non-binary, intersex, and irawhiti takatāpui. We operate within the kaupapa Māori public health framework Te Pae Māhutonga, and The Ottawa Charter (1986). We provide over 2,000 individual peer supports each year, to transgender people of all ages, cultures, and backgrounds. Our resources for updating identity documents have been accessed 1,132 times so far in 2022, and our staff member who is a Justice of the Peace has provided JP assistance 21 times.
Issue 1. Options for prescribing sex and gender markers available for the self-identification process
We believe that a default of no sex marker is ideal for self-determination, as it would allow individuals to opt-in when and if they decide to do so, and we recommend that ideally Section 6 (a) (iii) be removed from the Regulations. We would like this recommendation to be reflected in the report to the Minister, following this consultation.
However, in lieu of the option to remove the sex marker entirely, we believe that it is essential to have the option of an “unspecified” marker, such as the “X” available on NZ passports.
We recommend the following options for capturing population gender information, and believe these to be the appropriate markers for birth certificates:
Male (M) Female (F) A non-binary gender (N) Unspecified (X)
This captures everyone who identifies as a binary gender (male and female), and everyone who doesn’t (non-binary genders). It also gives an option for those who do not identify with either (X). This “X” option would be automatically consistent with passports in New Zealand Aotearoa, and is one of the more common third gender markers recognised on other passports around the world.
We recommend that these 4 options have a te reo Māori translation included, in the same manner that the Male and Female markers currently do. For non-binary genders we recommend ira tāhūrua-kore, and irahuri. 
We recommend against including a takatāpui marker, as this indicates both ethnicity and being rainbow-identified (which might include lesbian, gay, bisexual, and other identities). This information (ethnicity and sexual orientation) does not belong on a birth certificate.
We recommend against including a gender diverse marker, as diversity is a relationship, rather than an individual experience. It’s also a euphemism for transgender and non-binary, which comes from cisgender people and cisgender-led rainbow organisations, rather than trans and non-binary people themselves, or transgender-led organisations. It also serves no functional purpose in this context.
We recommend against including an intersex marker, primarily because it undermines the safety of people born with an intersex variation. This is also the position held by intersex activists and intersex advocacy organisations, broadly.
Further context to our recommendation against including a takatāpui marker.
These are discussion points raised during conversations between Māori transgender members of our staff.
Including a takatāpui marker would mean:
It would specify being Māori, making people an additional target for racism. There are very strong reasons why birth certificates no longer have ethnicity on them. These include standard privacy concerns, as well as a history of serious harm being done on the basis of recorded ethnicity in this kind of state record. We do not need tools or data that can be, and have historically been, used for ethnic discrimination. It would specify being rainbow identified (as opposed to just being a sex marker). The government does not have a mandate to collect sexuality information in this record. The law requires information about sex, not about sexual activity. It could be used by non-Māori rainbow people. It could be used by non-rainbow Māori people. It would be impossible to manage/enforce a specific way of using it. It would empower the government to store further information on rainbow Māori in perpetuity for its own purposes without meaningful oversight or control by rainbow Māori, denying rainbow Māori sovereignty over data collected about them. This directly contradicts a commitment to tino rangatiratanga. Orgs/services which use sex information as listed on birth certificates will need to update their policies, and may not do so with the requisite respect for tikanga and kawa around Māori people’s sex and sexuality. It would not contribute to tino rangatiratanga as the discussion document/submission forms suggest it would – it wouldn’t affect Māori in general, it would simply add a registry for Māori people who have changed their sex marker. Tāne and wahine are already under M and F markers, so more appropriately add a Māori translation to the Non-binary marker, and the Unspecified marker.
Issue 2. Who can be a suitably qualified third party to support applications for children and youth
Anyone over 18 years old, and therefore able to make a legal declaration, who supports the young person’s autonomy to self declare their own gender should be considered a ‘suitably qualified third party’.
We do not believe there needs to be a specific length of time they need to have known the young person. Transgender young people who have a time pressure to amend their birth certificate before they need to produce it, when enrolling in a new school for example, may be unable to achieve this if there is an arbitrary time restriction placed on how long they have know the person willing to support their application.
We do not believe that having a criminal record should stop a person from being able to make a legal declaration of this kind.
Issue 3. Additional requirements for multiple applications
Currently multiple name changes are allowed, requiring only a statutory declaration. In a similar way, there is no need for any additional measures to be put in place regarding changing a sex marker, beyond a legally binding statutory declaration.
Any additional mandatory requirements making this process more complicated than a name change would constitute a significant and unreasonable barrier for transgender people with legitimate reasons to amend their sex marker more than once.
Today the Rainbow Support Collective – of which we are a member – made the following submission on the Search and Surveillance Act review. This current consultation is for organisations, but there will be opportunities to make individual submissions later in the year.
Rainbow Support Collective submission
The Rainbow Support Collective is an alliance of organisations which primarily work to support the human rights, health, and well being of rainbow populations in Aotearoa. The collective comprises both national and regional organisations. All together, this collaboration represents 11 organisations with over 450 rainbow community workers and regular volunteers. These organisations include InsideOUT Kōaro, Gender Minorities Aotearoa, RainbowYOUTH, Rainbow Hub Waikato, Intersex Aotearoa, OutLine Aotearoa, Te Ngākau Kahukura, Burnett Foundation Aotearoa, Q-Youth, Dunedin Pride and Qtopia.
We would like to open our submission with the recognition that all surveillance and security systems are primarily about recognising difference, and that this fundamentally places a higher burden of risk on transgender and other LGBTQI+ populations.
In particular, transgender people are seen as different both visually and on paper when their documents are mismatched. The current systems are not developed in ways that can manage this effectively, and therefore security efforts disproportionately infringe on the right to privacy and freedom from discrimination for transgender people.
The following are our recommendations.
1. Human rights legislation
It critical that search and surveillance laws and enforcements uphold human rights to privacy, freedom from discrimination, and freedom from unfair detainment. As part of upholding these and other human rights, it is crucial that any use of search and surveillance law enforcement takes active steps to avoid breaches of human rights arising from targeting difference.
We believe it is necessary to target high risk groups rather than groups with a high degree of difference, and that the failure to take this approach in the past has contributed to not only harassment of LGBTQI+ people, but the enabling of white supremacist and anti-trans extremists, as we saw in the terror attacks in Christchurch.
To uphold human rights, it is imperative that search and surveillance enforcement foreground accountability and transparency.
During the 2007 Operation 8 incident we saw a distinct lack of process followed, lack of transparency, blatant human rights abuses, and extreme examples of anti-terrorism efforts dishonoring Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
There must be systems put in place to ensure that this is not possible going forward.
Reporting, auditing and accountability processes must be central to operations, and not contingent on cost.
The reporting itself should track demographic information to enable ongoing monitoring of the extent to which different demographic groups are being surveilled, to maintain accountability of how these powers are used to monitor different populations.
All non-warranted covert operations should be subject to external audit, to ensure that this greater power with less initial oversight is not being abused.
There should be independent (non-state) mechanisms in place for monitoring the use of search and surveillance warrants and orders, monitoring the role bias may be playing in the application of these powers, and for making complaints about search and surveillance activities. This is important to ensure restitution for unjustified search and surveillance is available, particularly for marginalised communities. This external monitoring body should have Rainbow competence (as well as competence in other areas) as central to its functioning.
Upholding human rights during search and surveillance activities requires recognition of prejudice, how it manifests in practice, and its impacts at every level.
Active work must be done systems-wide to address prejudices against all minority groups.
Transgender and LGBTQI+ competence training and systems review for Police and associated state actors must be required. Competence training should address issues specifically relevant to search and surveillance, and should be carried out by the organisations which provide direct support to transgender and LGBTQI+ community members 365 days a year, not by any organisation which has limited direct contact with these communities. It cannot be internal.
See the “Police and Detention” section of the Counting Ourselves Report (2019) for further information on current prejudice.
4. Dignity and privacy
The right to dignity and the right to privacy – are routinely not upheld during search and surveillance of transgender people in Aotearoa.
The right to dignity applies to basic dignity such as the use of correct names and pronouns, to dignity while being searched, detained, or incarcerated.
Section 126 of the Act references strip searches being carried out only by someone of the “same sex”. This may limit autonomy of, and facilitate discrimination against, trans or intersex individuals.
Under the Privacy Act, unnecessary disclosure of information related to sexuality, gender, or variations of sex characteristics must be prevented. In cases where this information is relevant to a case or investigation, it should not be shared any more broadly than is required.
5. Surveillance without a warrant
It must be made clear exactly what constitutes/necessitates search and surveillance without a warrant. The guidelines should contain far more stringent recommendations than “it is preferential to get a warrant”. This should be a criteria rather than a guideline.
Historically, many state powers to be used in “emergencies” and “when it is necessary” haveallowed greater room for discretion, and therefore prejudicial treatment of vulnerable minority communities (see Oranga Tamariki for examples).
This creates a significant risk to those communities if warrantless search and surveillance is made easier to carry out with less evidence of necessity.
We are concerned with the high degree of discretion available to officers when carrying out Search and Surveillance activities.
Social media surveillance, including use of algorithmic searches, and the purpose of this surveillance, must be made transparent to the public (i.e. through policy statements).
New technologies allow for greater surveillance in ways that do not always match the privacy expectations of people using these technologies, and the ability to use technologies to carry out greater surveillance shouldn’t take place without consultation and consideration to ensure that privacy and other human rights are upheld.
There should be extra care taken around warrantless searches in this area, where the ease of virtual surveillance may increase the risk of expanded use of warrantless searches.
Transgender and LGBTQI+ people are significantly more likely to use pseudonymous, have different/changing names, or verify accounts with mismatched documents because they do not have matching documents, or to protect their safety from the significant anti-trans harassment, and other safety risks they encounter online*. Applying security systems to this population therefore shows “difference” and makes them a disproportionate target for surveillance.
*It is also common for anti-trans and other anti-LGBTQI+ harassment online to be a precursor to offline harm.
7. Policy Statements
With reference to recommendation 37 and 38 of the Law Commission Report; in drafting and finalising Policy Statements, there must be consultation with transgender and LGBTQI+ organisations to acertain relevant considerations for these disproportionately affected populations.
Policy statements should be made publicly accessible.
8. Relevant data
From Counting Ourselves (2019), the first national survey of the health and wellbeing of trans and non-binary people living in Aotearoa:
7% of the survey’s trans and non-binary participants had been detained, held in custody, arrested or charged by the police.
Almost two-thirds of these participants reported that police did not ask their correct name, pronoun or gender, and almost half had been misgendered when police knew their correct name, pronoun or gender but would not use it.
More than half of these participants were not given any choice by Police about whether a male or female officer searched them, and less than one in ten were given the choice of whether they were put in a police cell with women or men or on their own.
Almost one-third were put in a cell with other people where they did not feel safe as a trans or non-binary person.
Most participants who required a shower did not have access to a shower that they felt safe to use.
Almost one in ten of these participants had been harassed or assaulted by police for being trans or non-binary
Transgender and LGBTQI+ communities, and their representative organisations, often report that their experience of engaging consultative processes on security is one of being told that our community members pose a risk, and that we should be suspicious of difference and report this to Police.
This is the opposite of what we are interested in. The threat to our communities comes not from within, but commonly from white supremacist and anti-trans campaigners and their organised groups.
Because these groups are typically comprised of clean-cut white people, presenting no “difference” markers, they are not recognised as the threat.
If you want to meaningfully engage our communities, you need to begin to recognise the power dynamics and prejudices that contribute to the disproportionate harms we are experiencing.
Once this foundational understanding has been achieved:
Prioritise creating spaces which are respectful, dignity-promoting and non-judgemental when asking people to share their own experiences as part of any consultation. Discussing surveillance can mean discussing traumatising personal experiences which might be connected to intimate parts of identity.
Especially consider how this affects rainbow people who are more marginalised e.g. Takatāpui, rainbow asylum seekers, transgender people, rainbow migrants, rainbow disabled people.
It is critical to both engage with Rainbow communities, and to understand why it is important to be doing this, so that those doing this consultation are able to learn and action what they learn, so that this is not a tick-box activity or a waste of time for those being consulted.
Ensure any online consultation is moderated and supported to ensure it’s not overtaken by hostile perspectives (e.g. anti-trans hate groups). It is often necessary to hold separate consultations with specific populations with rainbow communities – for example cisgender white gay men who own businesses may have different security interests from transgender Māori women who are homeless.
Ensure engagement with key organisations – the invitation to engage in this feedback process did not come to many relevant organisations and it was only by sharing within our own cross-organisational networks that others heard about this (despite being involved in prior relevant conversations about the Royal Commission into the Mosque Attacks with DPMC).
A wide range of topics are relevant for Rainbow communities. The best approach is early consultation with appropriate networks and organisations, to seek our expertise on the most appropriate ways forward.
Come to the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) consultation on the BDMRR, to have your say on how amending birth certificates and getting legal gender recognition should work.
Attend an online hui, and/or make a written submission to the DIA.
In December 2021, parliament voted yes unanimously, to change the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration Act.
When Act changes come into effect, they will remove the family court process for updating sex markers on New Zealand birth certificates, and replace it with a statutory declaration. This is a step forward for trans people, because they will no longer need to medically transition or prove their gender to a judge in order to get an accurate birth certificate.
Several aspects of the new process are regulations, so they were not written into the law. The DIA is seeking feedback from transgender and intersex people on what those regulations should be.
Which sex markers people should be allowed to use, besides Male and Female. There will eventually be a list of non-binary genders included in the regulations, and you will only be allowed to choose Male, Female or one of the genders on this list.
Who can support young people
People aged 16 or 17 will be able to amend their sex marker with a letter of support from either a parent or a “suitably qualified person” and people aged 15 or under will require a support letter from both a parent and a “suitably qualified person”. Exactly what is meant by “a suitably qualified person” is currently unclear, but will be specified in the regulations.
More than one update
The Act also states that people who have already changed their sex marker (or name) may face additional requirements to update their details again. Currently we don’t know what the additional requirements will be, but these will also be specified in the regulations.
People who do not have a NZ birth certificate
The old law made it possible for “anyone with the right to live in New Zealand indefinitely” to apply to the family court and receive a court ordered “declaration as to sex“. Since the family court process will be removed, this means that trans people born outside New Zealand no longer have access to legal recognition of their gender. The new law did not provide any options for people born overseas, but the government did commit to providing a solution. This process is a slightly different consultation, since it is not covered by the BDMRR Act. The Rainbow Path consultations will be addressing this process, and you can also speak about this in your written submission.
Find out more
Our submission on BDMRR covered some of these issues. Our position for youth was to loosen the requirements for support letters, and there is no longer a requirement for a supporting letter to come from a healthcare professional, which we spoke about in our submission. We believe that this should be loosened as much as possible, and anyone who knows a transgender young person should be qualified to write a letter in support of them amending their sex marker.
In our spoken submission, we focused on the added restrictions for people seeking to amend their sex marker more than once. Coming to understand your gender may be complicated, and may have several stages – people may go from a binary gender to a non-binary one over time for example. There should be no added restrictions for amending your sex marker more than once.
Together with Rainbow Path, we advocated for trans people born overseas to have their specific circumstances acknowledged, and for a process for recognition that works for refugees, asylum seekers, migrants and people on temporary visas to be included in the law. Whatever process the government decides to use, it is vital that everyone in New Zealand has access to documentation that shows their affirmed sex and which carries weight in their country of origin.