All trans and non-binary people in Aotearoa need legal gender recognition

Rainbow Path has been lobbying for almost three years for legal gender recognition, so that trans and non-binary asylum seekers and refugees can obtain official documentation confirming their name and gender.

Refugees and asylum seekers are continually asked to show our identity documents to prove who we are and that we are legally able to stay in Aotearoa NZ. Yet most trans and non-binary asylum seekers and refugees have to use ID documents that have the wrong name and/or gender marker. Most have us arrived from a country where it is not possible to change our name and/or gender marker – and Aotearoa NZ doesn’t allow anyone to change their name till they are a permanent resident here. This creates huge barriers including trying to open a bank account so we can get an emergency benefit, or convincing an employer that the work visa we are showing them was issued to us.

Rainbow Path supports the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration (BDMRR) Bill that will make it simpler for people born in Aotearoa NZ to amend their birth certificate. We have lobbied against the Bill’s proposal that legal gender recognition is limited to people born here. Permanent residents must retain the right to obtain a formal NZ document confirming their correct name and gender.

On its own, the Bill is not enough. There are also changes needed to other laws and policies, so that every trans and non-binary person living in Aotearoa has access to legal gender recognition – including asylum seekers and refugees and migrants on temporary visas. Rainbow Path has been lobbying on these specific issues for almost three years.

Rainbow Path recently helped Gender Minorities Aotearoa update its submission guide on the BDMRR Bill highlighting some of these remaining gaps. When the final Bill comes out this month, we are asking others to raise these issues too.

It is also important that submissions do not conflate the experiences of all people born overseas; for example, by making generalised statements about “trans migrants, refugees and asylum seekers”. There are differences between the experiences and legal barriers faced by each of these groups. Some are based on whether a trans or non-binary person is on a temporary or permanent visa or is a NZ citizen, and whether they are able to achieve any form of legal gender recognition in their country of birth or nationality. Listen to the diverse experiences of those who are directly affected by gaps in current laws and policies, and their recommendations.

Read more in Gender Minority Aotearoa’s submission guide – under the three separate sections about legal gender recognition issues faced by:

  • asylum seekers and Convention refugees on temporary visas
  • migrants on temporary visas and
  • permanent residents born overseas.
Trans person sitting at a desk writing a submission with posters on the wall behind her supporting the BDMRR Bill
Source: Counting Ourselves report. Artist: Huriana Kopeke-Te Aho

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