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Gender and gender identity

Changing gender markers and names

Your birth certificate: Changing your sex

Changing the sex on your birth certificate to become easier

    Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 2021

    In December 2021, Parliament passed The Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Bill. This law change will make things easier in the future to change the sex on your New Zealand birth certificate. Instead of going through the Family Court and showing evidence of medical treatment, you can change the sex on your birth certificate by applying with a statutory declaration.

    This section will outline the current process for changing the sex on your birth certificate, however a new, simpler process should start in 2023.

How do I change my sex on my birth certificate?

Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 1995, ss 27A, 28, 29

You can go to the Family Court to change your sex on your birth certificate if you meet all of these criteria:

  • You’re a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident
  • You’re 18 or older (there’s a different process if you’re under 18)
  • You intend to continue to live in your nominated gender (the gender you want the new birth certificate to state)
  • You have met the court’s standard for “irreversible medical changes” to “conform” to your nominated gender.

What medical treatment do I have to go through to change my birth certificate?

You don’t need to undergo all available medical procedures in order to be successful changing your gender in the Family Court.

You do need to show some type of medical proof, such as a letter from a doctor or endocrinologist using the term “irreversible”, or documentation of your surgery . The Family Court will consider your individual situation.

In the past, people who’ve had no surgeries but have been on hormones for a very long time have been successful when applying to change their birth certificate, as have transgender men who don’t intend to have any kind of ‘bottom’ surgery (genital reconstruction surgery).

The courts can apply the law to new and different situations over time, so you could still apply successfully even if no-one in your exact circumstances has been successful before.

How do I apply to change my birth certificate?

You’ll need to:

  • fill in two Family Court forms – Forms G5 and G7
  • provide your own written statement, called an “affidavit”, and
  • provide a medical affidavit from a doctor.

It can also be helpful to provide supporting letters from your family, landlord or employer and other references.

You can download both forms and a general affidavit form from the Family Court website – go to www.justice.govt.nz/family/change-sex-on-your-birth-certificate

When you fill in these forms and write your affidavit, make sure you cover and prove every part of the legal standard. It can be a good idea to have this checked by a lawyer or someone else with experience in the area.

If you use a lawyer, you’ll have to pay for their services. However, you can get free support and advice from Community Law.

You should then drop off two copies of your forms, affidavits and supporting documents to the nearest Family Court. You might also have to appear in court personally, but not usually.

People applying to change their sex are considered “vulnerable” by the Family Court, and this means that your application isn’t publicly recorded and will only be seen by those involved directly with the Family Court process.

How much will it cost to change my birth certificate?

Applying through the Family Court is free. However, you may need to pay for medical experts to write and support your application. Discuss this with your health care provider – for example your GP, endocrinologist or psychiatrist.

There is a small fee for getting a copy of your birth certificate from the Department of Internal Affairs.

Your birth certificate is a form of legal identification so you can use it to prove who you are. Getting your sex changed on your birth certificate automatically overrides your previous birth certificates, so your new birth certificate will make it appear that you were born in your nominated sex and had your current name from birth.

If you change your sex on your birth certificate other official records (like your driver’s licence) won’t be automatically updated, so you’ll need to do this yourself.

If you ever go to prison, and prison staff have access to your birth certificate, you must be placed – at least at first – in a prison that matches the sex on your birth certificate.

Your passport and driver’s licence: Changing your gender

How do I change my passport or driver’s licence to reflect my gender identity?

You can change your gender on your passport and in the drivers’ licence database without going through any medical treatment or going through the courts. All it takes is to make a formal legal statement called a “statutory declaration”, which you can make in front of any lawyer, Justice of the Peace (JP) or court registrar.

You can get these statutory declaration forms from the government agencies that deal with these areas, including online:

  • Passports – contact the Department of Internal Affairs: phone 0800 225050 or go to
    www.dia.govt.nz
  • Drivers licences – contact the NZ Transport Agency: phone 0800 822 422 or go to
    www.nzta.govt.nz

Your health documents: Changing your gender and name

Can I change my gender and name on my health documents?

The Ministry of Health says you can change your preferred name and gender markers in the National Health Index (NHI). The NHI is an index that hosts your identity information such as your name, date of birth and gender. This information is used so healthcare providers can identify you and be sure they are talking to the correct person. It’s also used so healthcare providers can share information and maintain the right medical records.

Your details on the NHI can be changed. The Ministry of Health website says that the best way to go this is to ask your regular healthcare professional. They will either be able to directly update your details on the NHI or they can contact the Ministry of Health to make the changes for them.

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Gender and sexuality

Where to go for more support

Legal information

“Lag Law: Your Rights Inside Prison and on Remand” booklet

This booklet contains practical answers to common questions relating to prisoner rights, including transgender rights in prison. A useful guide for people going to prison, in prison, or getting out of prison and their whānau.

Community Law Wellington and Hutt Valley

Phone: (04) 499 2928

Email: publications@wclc.org.nz

Visit www.communitylaw.org.nz to buy a copy or access free

Rainbow Rights

www.rainbowrights.nz

Rainbow Rights is a website developed by Rainbow Youth and YouthLaw (a Community Law Centre) to provide legal information about rights for LQBTIQ young people.

Legislation NZ

www.legislation.govt.nz

This has all of New Zealand’s current Acts and regulations.

Law Society

To find a lawyer

www.lawsociety.org.nz

(04) 472 7837

Gender Minorities Aotearoa

www.genderminorities.com

Phone: (04) 385 0611

Mobile: 02040492568

GMA maintains a national database of transgender, takatāpui, and intersex information, resources, and links.

InsideOUT

www.insideout.org.nz

0273314507

InsideOUT is a national organisation that provides workshops, resources and support to help make schools, community organisations and workplaces inclusive for rainbow people.

Rainbow Youth

www.ry.org.nz

(09) 376 4155

RainbowYOUTH provides a number of services for queer and gender-diverse youth and their wider communities all across Aotearoa.

Genderbridge

www.facebook.com/groups/genderbridge/

Genderbridge is a peer-to-peer transgender community organisation providing support to transgender and gender-diverse people, their whānau and friends throughout Aotearoa New Zealand.

Naming NZ

www.naming.nz

Naming NZ is an organisation to help transgender, gender-diverse and intersex youth with updating their identity documents to correctly reflect their sex and gender. Naming NZ can only provide financial assistance to youth in the Wellington region.

Government departments, agencies and courts

Department of Internal Affairs

www.dia.govt.nz

0800 25 78 87

The Department of Internal Affairs processes applications to legally change your name.

Family Court

www.justice.govt.nz/courts/family-court

0800 268 787 or (04) 918 8800

The Family Court make decisions about applications to change your sex on your birth certificate.

Oranga Tamariki / Ministry for Children

International Surrogacy – Fact sheet

www.orangatamariki.govt.nz/assets/Uploads/Adoptions/Surrogacy-and-adoption/2020-Information-Fact-Sheet-International-Surrogacy.pdf

Human Rights Commission

www.hrc.co.nz

You can contact the Human Rights Commission if you want to know more about discrimination and human rights, or if you want to complain about discrimination:

0800 496 877 or text 0210 236 4253

infoline@hrc.co.nz

“To Be Who I Am”, 2007 Report of the Inquiry into Discrimination Experienced by Transgender People is available on the HRC website

Human Rights Commission Intersex Roundtable

www.hrc.co.nz

NZ Transport Agency

www.nzta.govt.nz

0800 822 422

The NZTA deals with changes to drivers’ licences, including changing your name or gender on your driver’s licence.

Ministry of Health

Guidance for health professionals

www.health.govt.nz/our-work/preventative-health-wellness/delivering-health-services-transgender-people

Gender affirming surgery

www.health.govt.nz/your-health/healthy-living/transgender-new-zealanders/health-care-transgender-new-zealanders

Health and Disability Advocacy Service

www.advocacy.org.nz

The Health and Disability Advocacy Service can provide a free advocate to help you make a complaint about a health or disability service.

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

Guide about Transgender Employees

www.employment.govt.nz/starting-employment/hiring/discrimination-when-hiring/transgender-employees/

Department of Corrections

Placement of transgender prisoners

You can read their policy (Movements M.03.05) relating to placement of transgender prisoners on their website, at:

www.corrections.govt.nz/resources/policy_and_legislation/Prison-Operations-Manual.html

Also available as a book

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