On the gender identity front, a step forward that is both surprising and disturbing has been made in New Zealand. In the island country, self-confirmation of gender reassignment is already possible as of 2018, but with one very conspicuous constraint: you need to prove that you have received the appropriate hormonal and surgical health treatments. However, after just three years, the New Zealand Parliament has made a further qualitative leap: regardless of whether there has been any intervention on their body, anyone who wants to can come to the registry office and change their gender from male to female and vice versa. The bill was passed unanimously, in what is perhaps the most openly LGBT+ country in the world.
The innovation was strongly advocated by Minister of the Interior Jan Tinetti who spoke of a “day to be proud of” in the country’s history. A change that will “really make a difference to transgender, non-binary, LGBT and intersex New Zealanders”, and which the Minister says will support young people by giving them “authority over their own identity”, as well as promoting their “mental health” and a “sense of well-being”.
Elizabeth Kerekere, an MP from the Green Party and a declared advocate of LGBT+ issues, also welcomed the vote in favor with tears of emotion, but said she was disappointed that the law does not provide for the possibility of application to immigrants, refugees or asylum seekers. Another excluded category, at least for the moment, are foreign-born New Zealanders, but Minister Tinetti has pledged to remove this obstacle as well.
While there was no fuss in the Parliament, some trouble was recorded outside the political arena. Thanks to the feminists.
For example, the feminist group Speak Up for Women has consistently opposed the bill since it was introduced in 2018. This hostility has cost feminists dearly, as they have been labelled anti-transgender and prevented from holding events in various places, including Christchurch city library. In addition, National Party for Women spokeswoman Nicola Grigg expressed concern about the “societal impacts of people feeling that their views are no longer able to be expressed”. Minister Tinetti replied once again, cutting it short: “Trans misogyny is still misogyny”, said the Minister, thus putting the female issue and the homosexual issue on the same level.
However, the new New Zealand law will not come into effect immediately. Eighteen months will need to elapse, during which time the government will consult with ‘rainbow’ communities to ensure that the legislation supports those who benefit from it. There will also need to be identification of suitable persons to support applications for young people, ensuring that birth certificates include non-binary options, and determining requirements for anyone seeking to change their sex more than once.
This innovation, which has been welcomed by the people, stands out primarily because of a very obvious paradox. Passed to bypass medical and court bureaucracy, the new law is likely to reproduce further legal complications when issuing new certificates. Moreover, since there is no limit to changing sex in either direction–since you can do it several times in your life–registry offices and courts will find themselves busier and more crowded than before. If under the principle of self-identification everyone will be spared the ordeal of hormonal and surgical transition, how many scams can occur by virtue of this alleged extra freedom? How many hairy, bearded men will be able to declare themselves women, arbitrarily breaking into women’s toilets and changing rooms, or competing in women’s competitions, and winning them easily, by the way?
In short, New Zealand’s pro-gender reform represents the sharp end of a debate that is now global. The United Kingdom is the epicenter of an anthropological clash, and of a public opinion split in two; especially after yet another ruling on the Tavistock case. In Mexico, very Catholic and macho, it was the Supreme Court that sanctioned the right of minors to change their birth sex. However, if on the one hand psychiatry is starting to backtrack on gender transition while the testimonies of so-called detransitioners continue to increase exponentially, most national legislatures and judiciaries all seem to be going in one direction: that of a fluid human being; insubstantial and undefined at a psycho-social and sexual level. And because the see the human being as fragile and susceptible to manipulation, because it can be reduced to a thing or a slave, it is therefore extremely “profitable”.