Huge Win For Transgender People Facing "Cruel" Choice
But there's still work to be done to remove transgender discrimination in both the state and across the country.
Transgender people in Queensland will no longer be forced to divorce their partners before their gender is legally recognised.
Laws allowing married trans people who have undergone gender affirmation surgery to change their birth certificates passed the state's parliament on Wednesday, 86 to 4.
Until now, people were forced into a "cruel choice" between divorcing someone they love and having their gender legally recognised, says Anna Brown, director of legal advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre (HRLC).
"Previously we had quite a bizarre requirement that a transgender person wasn't allowed to change the gender on their birth certificate unless they were unmarried," she told ten daily.
It's a huge step forward for marriage equality in Australia, which despite coming into federal law in December 2017 still has some kinks to iron out at a state level.
Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath posted a photo of the signed amendment to the Births, Deaths and Marriages Bill on Twitter with the handwritten addition: "Love is love."
"Previously any Queenslander who has undergone sexual reassignment surgery had to divorce their partner to have their gender legally recognised," she said.
"It has been unjust and unfair and I'm proud to say this distressing choice will no longer be a requirement.
"I hope delivering this reform will go some way to helping the transgender community to live their lives openly and without judgement."
Queensland is the third state in Australia to make such vital legislative changes following the federal parliament legalising same-sex marriage, following Victoria in May and New South Wales in June.
Broader changes to birth certificate laws are underway in Western Australia, while South Australia and the ACT updated their laws before the legalisation of same-sex marriage.
Tasmania and the Northern Territory have yet to start proceedings, but could face a court order if they fail to do so by the 12-month deadline issued by the federal government in December 2017.
"It's long overdue and welcome news to our married trans people and partners," said Kristine Johnson, secretary of the Australian Transgender Support Association Queensland.
"There will be come celebration drinks today."
While Queensland has been far slower to update deeply homophobic legislation than other states, the Annastacia Palaszczuk Labor government has made steps in recent years to right these historical wrongs, such as removing the gay panic defense in 2017 and standardising the age of consent in 2016.
However, some feel that this law did not go far enough to remove discrimination faced by trans people, which currently forces trans people to undergo invasive surgery to have their gender legally recognised.
"Intersex, transgender and gender diverse people should be able to alter their sex or gender on all official documents, consistent with how they live and identify, irrespective of their marital status, without the requirement for gender affirmation surgery or hormonal therapy," said QLD Greens MP Michael Berkman in the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday, calling it an "unreasonable" barrier.
Queensland is currently conducting inquiries as to how else it should be updating its birth certificate laws, so there's hope this barrier could soon be removed.
"As well as the inherent unfairness of the state laws around birth certificates, it also puts trans and gender diverse people in a really difficult, practical dilemma when it comes to filling out forms or undertaking day-to-day activities that you or I would take for granted," said Brown.
She told ten daily that the HRLC is encouraging all states and territories to consider where else the laws could better meet the needs for trans people.
"Just the very act of filling out a form can be a deeply stressful experience for a transgender person, just because we have these inconsistent and conflicting laws standards across the country."