Recent roundtable discussions with the Attorney-General’s Department indicate that the Government is both aware and willing to include intersex in the upcoming Anti-Discrimination Consolidation Act.
For intersex it is important that we are included in two areas of anti-discrimination legislation. In the first instance, we seek protection under the sex discrimination revisions. Intersex, however we may express our sexual orientation or gender identity, always have differences of anatomical sex that vary from male or female.
In areas such as marriage, superannuation, anti-discrimination and so on, we can only seek access to those things so long as the notion that we really are male or female, despite our differences, is accepted.
In instances where our sex has been challenged at law we have generally been unsuccessful.
Issues such as “are we in a same-sex or heterosexual relationship?”, “what is an appropriate retirement age for someone who is physically neither male or female?”, “how will health insurance or life insurance regard us?” are largely untested and remain a substantial risk for intersex people. Legislative recognition would give us certainty and give us freedom as neither male nor female to live without fear of being lost to the law.
Intersex inclusion in anti-discrimination law in Australia would be second in the world after South Africa.
We were also present and fully included in Mental Health and Ageing Minister Mark Butler’s discussions in relation to the Productivity Commission’s recommendations for LGBTI in aged care. We are greatly encouraged by the minister’s desire to see that any changes to aged care are fully inclusive of LGBTI and especially, for the first time in the world, intersex.
Sensitivity training for those engaged in aged care around physical differences of sex and the individual needs of intersex clients are vitally important to those of us who are contemplating our old age and how we might fare with in-home care and aged-care accommodation.
Intersex inclusiveness in current reforms such as aged care and anti-discrimination makes Australia a world leader and shows the way for other countries to see us through the lens of rights rather than the lens of medicine and cures.
Other inclusive legislative changes are in the pipeline. Perhaps in my lifetime I might live to see the day when intersex enjoy equal rights.
By GINA WILSON