Ripon MP Louise Staley opposes transgender birth certificate changes

Louise Staley
Louise Staley

WIMMERA Pride Project founders have slammed Member for Ripon Louise Staley after she publicly opposed transgender people having a right to change the sex on their birth certificate.

Ms Staley spoke against an amendment to the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act in parliament last week.

She said she did not support pre-surgery trans people being able to legally change their gender. 

"The feminist in me objects strongly to a man changing his birth certificate to female because he feels enough of a woman to identify as one but not enough to take the step of permanently doing so," she said in parliament. 

“I cannot help but feel that such men are engaging in a radical form of mansplaining, telling women what really makes one a woman.”

Ms Staley also cited the advantage transgender women might gain over other females in the sporting arena as a reason to oppose the bill.

Wimmera Pride Project, founded by Maddi Ostapiw and Loucas Vettos, is a support network for the region’s LGBT+ community

Ms Ostapiw said it was incredibly disappointing that in 2016, an outdated model of feminist gender theory was being used by a politician to relegate trans, intersex and gender diverse people to the role of second-class citizen.

“Any person who identifies as a feminist should understand the fact that women’s inequality, homophobia and transphobia all stem from the same root source – misogyny and the male fear that if the societal notion of gender were removed from our day to day life, cisgendered and straight men would lose the undeniable privilege they have in the world,” she said.

“If Ms Staley would like trans people to commit to gender reassignment surgery before amending their birth certificate, then she needs to lobby to have the difficult process made easier.

“If she is concerned about trans women defeating cisgendered women in sporting games then she should focus on advocating for women to be seen as equal to their male counterparts in professional sporting codes.”

Ms Ostapiw said feminism was about women making their own decisions.

“I would suggest that Ms Staley look up what it means to be an intersectional feminist, and apologise to both the gender diverse and the feminist communities,” she said.

“Neither group will allow feminism to be used as a smoke screen to conceal oppression.”

Transgender Victoria executive director Sally Goldner said there was overwhelming support for the bill among queer people and described the language of Ms Staley and her party room colleagues as disappointing.

“I found the debate very difficult to listen to, and I shudder to think what some trans or gender diverse people and their families would think if they stumbled onto that debate, especially if they were in a regional area where there’s less support,” Ms Goldner said.

A 2013 beyondblue report stated as many as half of all transgender community members had attempted suicide at some time in their lives, and Ms Goldner said last week’s debate would unequivocally cause more harm to trans and gender diverse people.  

Ms Staley declined to comment on the issue.