Pushes for sex classification to be removed from birth certificates

Newborn baby with mum

As concepts surrounding identity are further explored, some experts are suggesting changing the way we categorise children when they’re born. For very good reasons.

Modernising the law

“A discussion paper by WA’s Law Reform Commission recommends a baby’s sex classification be held by the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages, but not included on birth certificates,” Perth Now reports.

It’s part of a State Government-commissioned review of WA’s laws surrounding gender reassignment. The state’s Law Reform Commission flagged a number of shifts that would “modernise” the laws and make them more inclusive, especially for parents of intersex children.

Intersex people are born with physical sex characteristics that don’t fit medical and social norms for female or male bodies. – Intersex Human Rights Australia


  Read more about identity and kids:


Improving the system for everyone

Current laws put pressure on parents to assign a sex to their child – via their birth certificate – within 60 days. But for some families, the sex of their child is not always clear-cut. For parents of intersex children, this can send them down a path of ‘normalising’ medical interventions that may not be right for their child. 

“The commission heard the intersex community was ‘concerned with the practice of medical, especially surgical, intervention being used to ‘normalise’ a child’s sex characteristics’,” Perth Now reports. “The change would give parents more time to receive medical advice and ‘consider the consequences of any intervention.'”

As we mentioned a baby’s sex classification at birth would still be recorded and held by the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. The aim is simply to stop babies’ sex being hastily (and sometimes inappropriately) recorded on a document they’ll have to present for the rest of their life – their birth certificate.

EDITORIAL: Baby and parent's feet

Not relevant for birth certificates

The Law Reform Commission also stressed the distinction between sex and gender:

  • Sex is a biological concept describing a person’s physical features while
  • Gender is a social construct denoting what someone inherently feels they are

They suggested alternatively having three sex classifications on birth certificates – male, female and a new non-binary category (for those who don’t neatly fit male or female.)

The Commission chairman and barrister Dr David Cox said they did not find any legal reason why sex classifications were needed on birth certificates.

“For the vast majority of the population it’s not going to make one iota of difference … it’s not going to affect the fabric of government, it’s not going to affect the fabric of society, it’s not doing anything really but it’s going to make life a lot easier for a small group of people. Is that a problem?” Dr Cox said.

Surely not.

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