The Department of Internal Affairs is looking for people to help test the new application form for amending the sex on birth certificates. Here is a message they’ve asked us to share.
Message from DIA
The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) is looking for volunteers to participate in user-testing a new application form for amending registered sex on birth certificates. We are looking for people who have considered amending the registered sex on their birth certificates.
If you’ve considered amending the sex on your birth certificate, and you’d like to help us test the application form, we’d be very interested in hearing from you. Please read below for more information on the sessions, your privacy, and how to get in touch with us.
DIA is developing a new process that will allow people to self-identify the registered sex on their New Zealand birth certificates, so the documents better reflect the person’s identity.
Self-identification means people will no longer need to go to the Family Court to complete this process. Instead, people will apply directly to the Registrar-General by filling out and submitting the application, including a statutory declaration, to DIA.
A new application form is being developed to make this process as accessible and straightforward as possible. We are seeking assistance from members of transgender, intersex, takatāpui and non-binary communities to help us user-test the proposed form. This will help ensure that it is user-friendly, inclusive, and accessible.
The user-testing session will involve sitting with a researcher, filling out the proposed form, and providing feedback on the process. Interviews are voluntary, confidential and will follow pre-set questions. These questions will be shared with you prior to the session.
User-testing is scheduled for the end of March. We will arrange a time and location convenient to participants, and all participants are welcome to bring along a support person. Sessions will take 45-60 minutes and we will offer a koha for participants’ time.
Notes and insights captured during the session will be anonymised to protect participants’ identities. You are welcome to use fictitious personal information if you prefer.
No identifying details will be recorded during the session. The research team does not have access to participants’ records at DIA, and no information provided during these interviews will be associated with any current or future applications.
How can I help?
If you’d like to help us out with user-testing, please get in touch with me at my email address, email@example.com, to arrange a session time.
Ngā manaakitanga, Tavis Milner Kaihoahoa Ratonga Matua | Senior Service Designer Kāwai ki te Iwi | Service Delivery and Operations Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs
If you were born in another country, the New Zealand government cannot update your birth certificate. Currently there are very limited and insufficient options for gaining official documents which state your updated gender or sex marker.
Prior to June 2023, a ‘Declaration as to sex’ was available through the Family Court. As of June 2023, this option is no longer available.
The current options are a citizenship certificate (if you have not yet applied for citizenship), or an evidentiary certificate (if you have been granted citizenship).
You can find out how to update your sex marker on these documents at the NZ government webpage by clicking the button below.
Despite the global pandemic, we had a very successful year across all five of these areas.
We provided 1:1 peer support over 1,300 times, and there were over 500 visits to our Wellington drop in centre. Our website was visited over 61,000 times with 118,000 views.
We made over 4,100 health referrals, and received over 500 referrals from healthcare providers across 9 DHBs. We held a 3DHB community update, and produced 2 health resources.
Our Rainbow Housing NZ group grew to 2,600+ members, we met with the UN Special Rapporteur on Housing, and we published a housing report from our research into homelessness and housing instability in Wellington. We sent Counting Ourselves to key figures at the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development – which then named trans people as a priority group.
Our guide to birth certificate sex marker updates was read over 1,400 times, and we assisted a number of people in making applications. We were also on the BDMRR working group for the Minister of Internal Affairs.
We facilitated connectedness for 1,700 trans people, whānau, and supporters in our online Transgender and Intersex NZ group, we held or significantly participated in 15 community events, our “trans 101” resource was read more than 27,000 times, and our parents resource was read more than 300 times.
Trans, intersex and rainbow community organisations are very disappointed to hear there will be no progress before the election on a Bill that would make it easier for trans and intersex people to amend sex details listed on their birth certificates.
On Tuesday 23 June, the Minister of Internal Affairs confirmed in a media report that there would be no law change this Parliamentary term. Community members are also concerned that a report delivered to the Minister in February 2020 on reducing barriers under the current law is yet to be released.
In February 2019, the Minister of Internal Affairs announced that the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration Bill was deferred. Almost six months later, on 1 August 2019, the Minister announced the appointment of a Working Group to provide her with advice on practical improvements to the current Family Court process.
The Working Group’s role included commissioning the Department of Internal Affairs to conduct interviews with trans and intersex people to hear how to improve people’s interactions with government services involved in the process for amending sex details recorded on birth certificates. Gender Minorities Aotearoa, F’INE, RainbowYOUTH, the Intersex Trust Aotearoa NZ (ITANZ) and other community organisations helped promote these confidential interviews and hosted some in community venues.
“People told us they gave up their time to be interviewed because they wanted to share the barriers they had faced so that the process would improve for other Pasifika people in the future”, said F’INE Director, Phylesha Brown-Acton.
In her media release announcing the Working Group, the Minister identified the financial, time, and dignity barriers trans and intersex people faced under the existing law.
“It is hugely concerning if the Minister has been reported accurately on Tuesday as saying “we don’t need to remove any barriers” and if the only solutions being considered are about providing education within the courts and to trans and intersex communities” said Frances Arns, Executive Director of RainbowYOUTH.
“Trans organisations and community groups have been creating and sharing information about the current Family Court process, both face to face and online, for a long time. And holding community legal clinics”, said Ahi Wi-Hongi, National Coordinator, Gender Minorites Aotearoa. “Education is important but, on its own, is not going to enable more than a small fraction of our community to be able to amend their birth certificates”.
The Aotearoa New Zealand Trans and Non-Binary Health Survey, Counting Ourselves, published in September 2019, found that 83% of participants had the incorrect gender listed on their birth certificate. The most common reason why trans people did not have identification documents with the correct gender marker was because they only had the option of choosing male or female.
“The lack of a non-binary option on birth certificates is an insurmountable barrier for many trans people and requires a law change”, said Counting Ourselves’ principal investigator and University of Waikato Senior Lecturer, Dr Jaimie Veale.
“The Working Group was asked to look at the specific experiences of trans children and their families and of intersex people who want to correct their birth certificate details, ”, said Tabby Besley, Managing Director, InsideOUT. “We need the Working Group’s findings and progress on the Bill to make schools safer for trans and intersex children and youth”.
“The current law requires evidence from medical experts and a court process. This creates a barrier to access for trans people who may not be able to afford a lawyer, especially trans young people”, said Qtopia 2IC, Jennifer Shields.
“Everyone wants trans and intersex young people to grow up among whānau and community who love them and recognise that they are who they say they are,” said Joey Macdonald, Training Lead for Te Ngākau Kahukura. “Young people’s right to an identity is described in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Our current law presents unacceptable barriers to trans and intersex young people amending their official documents to match their identity.”
On 19 June 2020, the Human Rights Commission released Prism, a report and recommendations on human rights issues faced by trans, intersex, and other Rainbow communities in Aotearoa New Zealand.
“The Commission’s report concludes that the current law does not meet New Zealand’s international human rights obligations, because it does not protect trans and intersex people’s rights to self-determination, bodily integrity and non-discrimination”, said OUTLine’s co-chair Moira Clunie. “The passage of the Bill, with improvements recommended by the Commission, will better protect these rights and reflect concerns raised by trans and intersex communities”, said OUTLine co-chair Aych McArdle.
“Intersex people require the freedom of self-determination, bodily autonomy and recognition of their diversity, and this is an inherent right under international law”, said ITANZ Co-President, Dr Rogena Sterling. “Any legal and policy changes regarding official identity documentation must consider the diverse needs of the intersex community in Aotearoa.”
“Aotearoa should be a place where inclusive laws and practices uphold the mana and dignity of takatāpui and LGBTIQ / rainbow people and address the systemic issues that result in discrimination and violence against us,” says Dr Elizabeth Kerekere, Chair of Tīwhanawhana Trust. “We call on the Government to make good on previous assurances of support to our whānau and communities including by supporting the human right of trans, non-binary and intersex people to self-define their identity.”
The human rights issues faced by trans and intersex communities are often invisible. Trans, intersex and rainbow community organisations strongly encourage all political parties to take these issues seriously this election and demonstrate how their policies and actions will meet the human rights obligations set out in the Human Rights Commission’s Prismreport.