NZ campaign to stop sex self-ID

Caption: Speak Up For Women’s Ani O’Brien (second from right), Georgina Blackmore (second from left), and supporters kick off the campaign to raise awareness of their concerns with sex self-ID law.

The group Speak Up For Women was formed to raise public awareness of the proposed changes to the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration Bill which are currently passing unchallenged through Parliament. 

Yesterday in Auckland they began what is to be a month-long campaign calling for wider public consultation before a controversial sex self-identification law is passed by the government.

Sex self-identification means anyone can change the sex on their birth certificate simply by making a statutory declaration that they ‘identify’ as a member of the opposite sex. Currently, this process requires a Family Court process and expert medical evidence.  

The sex self-identification proposal is buried within clauses 22A-22J of the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration Bill, which is due for its second reading when Parliament re-convenes in February.   

Speak Up For Women wants the government to put the proposal on hold until it can clarify how these changes will affect the Human Rights Act 1993, which contains a number of hard-won protections for biological women and girls.

The group is also urging the government to review how the proposed changes will affect statistics and reporting for the effective monitoring of health, crime, sex discrimination, and the mythical pay gap.  

Ani O’Brien, Speak Up For Women spokesperson, says: “Building a world where transgender people can live freely without unreasonable discrimination is something our group strongly supports, but we do not believe it is right to try and achieve that end by weakening the human rights designed to support and protect females, especially without widespread and well-publicised consultation with the women and girls of New Zealand.

The government has failed to consult on this issue, which is unsurprising given Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s tendency to make ‘Captain’s call’, knee jerk decisions like her one on Oil and Gas with zero consultation of those affected.

These human rights include access to single-sex sports, schools, refuges, changing rooms, prisons, and rape crisis centres, and special measures to promote equality in civic and political life, such as quotas.

Ani O’Brien

 It is currently unclear how the proposed changes in the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration Bill will impact these sex-based human rights, and Speak Up For Women are calling for this discussion to be had before the Bill is rammed through parliament. Kiwis need more time to understand the implications of this change.” 

To date, Tracey Martin, the Minister in charge of the Bill, has declined to comment on the concerns raised by Speak Up for Women. By comparison, a similar proposal in the UK to amend the Gender Recognition Act went to a twelve-week public consultation, the results of which are yet to be announced.  

Quick facts about sex self-ID in the Bill:  

  • This significant law change was not signalled when the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships bill Registration was first introduced into Parliament, but was raised at the Select Committee stage. 
  • The proposed changes were pushed through despite concerns raised by the Department of Internal Affairs in 2017. See DIA advice 5 April 2017 and DIA supplementary advice 19 May 2017 .
  • The genesis of sex self-ID’s inclusion in the Bill is a petition (no. 2014/0086) started by trans woman activist Allyson Hamblett, which attracted only 53 signatures.  

In contrast, following the inclusion of self-ID at the Select Committee stage, a petition (no. 2017/235) calling for consultation on the impact of self-ID attracted 1616 signatures in three weeks.

Whaleoil routinely gets responses to its quizzes and polls of 600-1000 in a single day so many of the signatures on the petition are likely to be from Whaleoilers as we drew their attention to the petition in a couple of posts last year.

After previously promoting and supporting their petition on Whaleoil as well as writing about the issue I approached Speak Up For Women last year and offered them the opportunity to submit guest posts. They declined because they objected to a post I wrote that contained the below photoshop of MP Louisa Wall who in a speech had labelled them “Fucking TERFS”

The group believes that they can successfully counter that kind of abuse from an MP with a “respectful debate” and did not appreciate our ‘confrontational style’ where we gave Ms Wall a satirical taste of her own medicine.

Photoshopped image credit: Boondecker

Despite their rejection of our offer (which still stands) Whaleoil shares their concerns about the proposed changes to the bill and we will continue in our normal hard-hitting way to promote this important issue. Foul-mouthed Louisa Wall does not deserve our respect.


Speak Up for Women is asking that New Zealanders concerned about the implications of this Bill contact their MPs using this form.


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