Local opinion on gender law reform proposals

Tamra CarrGeraldton Guardian
Strathalbyn Christian College's principal Gavin Hirschhausen
Camera IconStrathalbyn Christian College's principal Gavin Hirschhausen Credit: Geoff Vivian The Geraldton Guardian.

A local educator has speculated that the majority of people are getting annoyed at being forced to accept major changes to gender law driven by a minority perspective.

In response to an online backlash to WA Law Reform Commission’s suggested changes to gender laws, Strathalbyn Christian College principal Gavin Hirschhausen said he doesn’t agree with anger being expressed, but he does understand why people are getting angry.

In a discussion paper, the commission recommended the State exclude sex from birth certificates, remove the need for a person to undergo a medical procedure to have their gender identity officially recognised and allow a person to make up to three gender change applications before requiring court approval.

The commission also recommended that children aged 12 or over can seek a certificate to formally change their gender.

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Mr Hirschhausen, who is against the recommendations, said a child’s sex is not up for debate.

“For almost 400 years Western societies have embraced a scientific understanding of the world, based on physical observations,” he said.

“At birth, a child’s sex is determined by examining its external genitalia.

“Genetically males have XY sex chromosomes and females XX, morphologically males have testes and females have ovaries.

“It’s not a matter of opinion, it’s scientifically observable.”

The commission has argued the changes will help the intersex community, a group of people who are born with bodies that don’t fit the typical definition of male or female.

Mr Hirschhausen said he doesn’t think the proposals will be helpful.

“The last recommendation regarding 12-year-olds goes against the volume of medical data that clearly indicates intervention in children does far more damage than good,” he said.

“Very rarely a person is born with an intersex condition, it may be very difficult to determine the sex due to abnormalities in hormonal function or chromosomes.

“These conditions reflect disorders of sexual differentiation in the developing embryo and do not represent a ‘third sex’ or list of new genders as is gaining popularity.

“I believe we need to stick to the basics here and let the professionals use observable science and continue to assign at birth as they always have. “For the small minority where the diagnosed condition exists of non-binary, the doctors can determine to leave it blank to be determined as the sex hormones kick in later in life, accept the person as a person. What is not appropriate is that a person can ‘choose’ to be something that they are scientifically, biologically proven not to be.”

In earlier reports, commission chairman Dr David Cox said people should have better things to do than complain about the proposed reforms. “For the vast majority of the population it’s not going to make one iota of difference ... it’s not going to affect the fabric of government, it’s not going to affect the fabric of society, it’s not doing anything really but it’s going to make life a lot easier for a small group of people. Is that a problem?”, he said.

Mr Hirschhausen encouraged people to share their opinion, as public feedback will be reportedly taken into consideration.

Submissions close on October 19. Email lrcwa@justice.wa.gov. au.

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