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Individual rights & freedoms


This chapter covers laws and services relevant to trans, intersex, takatāpui and queer people. This includes things like updating your legal documents, accessing healthcare, and protection from discrimination.


The language we use to describe sex and gender evolves over time. In New Zealand, different organisations and public services use words differently when talking about sex and gender, which can be confusing when navigating your rights. Because of this, we’ve created a definitions section to make it easier to navigate the chapter.

These are the words we use in this chapter, and what we mean when we use each word. These definitions are here to help navigate your legal rights. For general support and advice on understanding gender, sex and sexual orientation, see: “Where to go for more support” at the bottom of this page.

Gender: Gender is a person’s internal sense or feeling of being male, female, non-binary, or another gender identity. A person’s gender may vary or change over time. Gender is not tied to physical sex characteristics like genitalia or hormones, or the sex that a person was assigned at birth. Like ‘sex’, gender is socially constructed. Though the terms sex and gender are not the same, people often use them interchangeably.

Sex: Sex is a way of classifying people as male, female or intersex according to their physical characteristics. Like ‘gender’, this is socially constructed. It is the label assigned, usually at birth, and usually just according to a person’s genitals. A person might change their physical sex characteristics through taking hormones or having surgery.

Cis: A cis or cisgender person is someone who was assigned the right sex at birth.

Trans: A trans or transgender person is someone who was assigned a sex at birth, which turned out to be not right. This includes non-binary people.

Non-binary: A non-binary person is someone who is not male or female.

Takatāpui: Takatāpui is an inclusive te reo Māori term. The traditional translation of the word is “intimate friend of the same sex,” but it is now often used in a similar way to “rainbow person,” “rainbow community,” or LGBTQIA+ in te reo. If you’re otherwise communicating in English, the term should only be used for Māori individuals and communities.

Intersex: An intersex person has a variations of sex characteristics from birth, as opposed to through taking hormones or having surgery. Sex characteristics include things like hormones, chromosomes, genitals, and internal reproductive organs. These variations mean their sex characteristics don’t clearly fit into a ‘male’ or ‘female’ category.

Sex marker: A sex marker is the marker used to confirm your identity on legal documents and records. These are usually the letter M, F, X, or another marker for non-binary gender. There is no consistent approach to sex and gender for identity documents in New Zealand, so options available to you might be different on different forms.

Gender-inclusive: Gender-inclusive is a term used to refer to language, behaviour or services that are intentionally inclusive of all genders and sexes. We prefer this term over ‘gender-neutral’, which is a more passive phrase, rather than focusing on active inclusion.

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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


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


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

Law Society

To find a lawyer


(04) 472 7837

Gender Minorities Aotearoa


Phone: (04) 385 0611

Mobile: 02040492568

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




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


(09) 376 4155

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



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


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


0800 25 78 87

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

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


Human Rights Commission


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


“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


NZ Transport Agency


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


Gender affirming surgery


Health and Disability Advocacy Service


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


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:


Also available as a book

The Community Law Manual

The Manual contains over 1000 pages of easy-to-read legal info and comprehensive answers to common legal questions. From ACC to family law, health & disability, jobs, benefits & flats, Tāonga Māori, immigration and refugee law and much more, the Manual covers just about every area of community and personal life.

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