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Trans campaigner zeroes in on citizenship certs

A tireless trans rights campaigner is determined to ensure the issue of citizenship certificates remains on the political radar.

Avatar of Alessia Valenza

29th July 2012 13:54

Alessia Valenza

Allyson Hamblett says in 2008 Internal Affairs agreed the 1977 Citizenship Act needed to be more accommodating for transsexual people, but a legislative change was needed. “It’s 2012 and the amendment still hasn’t been made,” Hamblett says, adding the Citizenship Amendment Bill , which could have included such a change, was dropped.

Tired of waiting for change, she has written to Minister of Internal Affairs Chris Tremain enquiring when the Act will be amended so trans people can have their citizenship certificates reissued.

“The minister was not able to say when this would be sorted, but the Citizenship Amendment Bill was withdrawn to give the Department of Internal Affairs time to work on further issues, which includes the reissue of citizenship certificates,” she says.

“It’s really great news,” Hamblett adds.

“It’s on the political radar, but I’ll be regularly reminding the Minister until the required legislative change is made, hopefully in this current parliamentary term.”

The issue is a personal one for Hamblett, who became a New Zealand citizen in 1988, before she realised she was transsexual. She says documentation is very important for transsexuals, and she is annoyed that the only document that she cannot change properly is her citizenship certificate.

“The policy guiding the issuing of Citizenship Certificates states that once issued, citizenship certificates cannot be reissued because they mark a historical moment in time. We tried to modify the policy so that the argument of historical moment in time could stop, but a law change is what’s needed,” she explains.

“It’s an important amendment to be made because it aligns legislation. In 2009 overseas born transsexuals, living in New Zealand as permanent residents or citizens by grant, were allowed to go through the New Zealand Family Court to obtain a Declaration As to Sex under section 28 of the Births Deaths and Marriages Registration Act (1995). Previously it was only available to those born in New Zealand.”