National | Dr Elizabeth Kerekere

Kerekere says takatāpui able to change registered sex a 'milestone' but still not enough

A win for takatāpui - but Elizabeth Kerekere continues to advocate for more to be done. Photo / File

Amendments to the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationship Registration Act (BDMRR) came into effect last week, allowing trans, intersex and non-binary people to change their registered sex on their birth certificate without going through the Family Court or providing proof of medical treatment.

Independent MP Elizabeth Kerekere, whose doctoral thesis was the first piece of major research on takatāpui identity, said it was a milestone for rainbow communities.

“The old process required to go through the Family Cmeant they ourt had to share very, very personal and private medical details with strangers and had to pay money to be able to put something on their birth certificate that actually reflected who they are.”

However, she is disappointed Māori gender terms were excluded from the amendments, due to concerns about racial profiling and non-Māori misusing them.

“I wish they could have been more courageous; we would have been one of the first in the world to have something like indigenous names.

“I will continue to lobby for that.

“It’s not good enough for officials, someone based in Wellington, to just decide on behalf of takatāpui what’s best for them."

The Department of Internal Affairs has said the Māori gender terms could be recognised in the future.

The Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) also issued new guidance for gender identity to protect trans people against discrimination and denigration. It includes referring to a person with a name or pronoun that accurately reflects their gender, as well as inclusive language – which Kerekere is all for.

“[The guidelines] specifically say that people trying to spread transphobia and trying to make complaints about intrusive language, that they will not entertain them because they recognise it is just transphobic.

“For those as Māori women takatāpui, quite often we are in the minority. But for this, being a wahine who identifies as wahine, was born and assigned that at birth, I’m completely in the majority. I’m the dominant culture in this and it’s a very, very small concession for us as the dominant culture in this case to be inclusive of our whānau who are trans, non-binary and intersex.”

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