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15 July 2018 
This submission is in response to proposed changes to the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships 
Registrations Act (BDMRRA) which are before the Governance and Administration Select Committee. 
The Lesbian Rights Alliance Aotearoa is a nationwide collective of lesbian women advocating for the rights and 
wellbeing of lesbians in New Zealand. We assert our right to be an exclusively female, exclusively lesbian 
organisation under Section 19 of the Bill of Rights Act 1990. 
The proposed changes to the BDMRRA represent risks to all New Zealand women, particularly lesbians. We 
understand no women’s groups have been approached for consultation on the proposed changes to the Act in 
favour of implementing ‘one step’ self declaration of legal sex on birth certificates. We have been advised by 
Hon Tracey Martin’s staff to participate by submitting this report as supplementary evidence.  
Definition of terms: 
In this report the term women refers to females. The term male transgender persons indicates males who 
identify as women, and the term female transgender persons indicates females who identify as men. This 
language is used to distinguish sameness and difference of sex. Lesbian refers to women who are exclusively 
emotionally and sexually attracted to other women. The term lesbian is used in preference to homosexual. 
Our position: 
The self declaration of legal sex on birth certificates represents a step back for lesbian rights and the rights of 
all women in Aotearoa. Gender ideology proponents​ wish to change the ‘sex’ categories ‘male’ and ‘female’ 
into i​ mmaterial​ ‘identity’ categories.​ Policy which allows people to be legally recognised as the sex different 
to their birth sex will: 
● Distort important health, economic and social statistics, 
● Obscure patterns of sexism,  
● Change who can use female-only and lesbian-only spaces and services and 
● Entrench sexist stereotypes in law. 
We request Section 28 of the BDMRRA be amended to include a preamble defining the word ‘sex’. Sex should 
be defined as biological: persons can be either male or female according to standard definitions. Any definition 
of sex proposed to underpin the BDMRRA that challenges commonplace understandings of biological sex 
(including definitions drawn on to prevent sex discrimination in the Human Rights Act 1993 and the 
Convention for Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)) must not be legislated for 
without public consultation. 
We support the maintenance of an “indeterminate” provision for intersex persons under Section 28 of the 
current Act. The process for intersex people to accurately update their birth certificates should be simplified in 
consultation with intersex advocacy groups. M
​ ichelle O’Brien, the New Zealand representative of the group 
Intersex Human Rights Australia​ ​has stated, “​ The issues some intersex people may have in dealing with earlier 
gender assignments they are uncomfortable with are not to be conflated with transgender health issues.” 1​  
Finally, we request public consultation if any beliefs of ‘innate gender’ ideology are to be entrenched in law (See 
Appendix 1 for a list of beliefs of innate gender ideology). New Zealand has no official religion and according to 
the Human Rights Commission 2009 Statement of Religious Diversity​2​, ‘​The state seeks to treat all faith 
communities and those who profess no religion equally before the law.’​ It is important to examine the policy 
implications of legislating to protect the belief system of one faith over all others in New Zealand - especially 
given the impacts of this belief system on the rights of women and disbelievers. 
In the situation self declaration of legal sex on birth certificates is legislated for:  
We request a clause be inserted into the BDMRRA which states that self identified sex can be overridden in 
every context where the wellbeing of women will benefit from no men present (including male transgender 
persons); including health contexts, the collection of sex-based statistics and research.  
Female only support groups, clubs, rape crisis centres, schools (including dormitories), spaces with 
female-only changing rooms or sleeping arrangements (including refuges and army barracks), lesbian services 
and organisations, prisons, scholarships and sports teams must all be able to access exemptions in order to 
not have to admit male transgender persons.  
Birth sex must remain marked on all birth certificates even if they are updated to add a personal identity 

Reasons for our position: 
1. Removing evidence of sexism is not the same thing as ending sexism 
‘Innate gender’ ideology asserts that women do not face sexism because of our sex, but because of an female 
‘gender identity’. This claim is not grounded in reality: S
​ exism occurs on the basis of sex, not on the basis of 
identity. I​ t is a material problem and public policy must address it with material solutions. A comparator for 
the purposes of showing sex discrimination is a person of the opposite sex. New Zealand has an 
extraordinarily high rate of violence against women, with one in three women subjected to physical or 
psychological violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.​3​ Sexual abuse (child and adult) 
disproportionately affects women, with one in four girls being sexually abused before their 16th birthdays.​4​ If 
the category sex is redefined to be immaterial, then demonstrating patterns of sexism will become more 
difficult.​5, 6 
Recording transgender people as the sex they want to be, rather than the sex they are, obscures sex-based 
patterns. Female transgender persons are at a high risk of rape compared to men​7​ - but if female transgender 
persons are legally recognised as male the statistics reflecting these rapes will portray them as male crimes 
against males.  
The 2011 report ‘Injustice at Every Turn’ by the ​National Center for Transgender Equality and National Gay and 
Lesbian Task Force​8​ shows that ​transgender​ ​male persons earn more than female transgender persons do​. 
‘Injustice at Every Turn’ also finds female transgender people experience higher rates of harassment and 
bullying at schools than their male counterparts, and that female transgender people postpone accessing 
medical care almost twice as much as male transgender people do. The female transgender group was less 
likely to report sexual assault than the male transgender group, were denied equal treatment or service by 
public services more than male transgender people were, and were treated worse than male transgender 
people by both police and prison guards. Understanding sexism helps researchers and policymakers recognise 
these patterns and design targeted interventions to improve outcomes. 
The Lesbian Rights Alliance of Australia​ has noted that from a public policy perspective, “it would not be 
possible to plan and locate transgender-specific medical and mental health services, as well as other 
transgender-specific services (e.g. refuges) on the basis of a gender identity alone. It is also necessary to know 
the person’s birth sex to know that the gender identity recorded is a diverse one. Therefore in order to plan 
public services for the transgender community, both birth sex and gender identity should be recorded, not 

gender identity alone.”​9 
Recommendation:​ If an​ i​ dentity metric such as gender ‘identity’ is added to birth certificates, it must not 
replace the measure of birth sex. 
2. Allowing males to be legally recognised as female undermines female only spaces 
Allowing males to be legally recognised as female leaves female-only organisations and services vulnerable to 
biological males taking us to court for discrimination, if those males have changed their birth certificates to 
read female.  
The pressure is overwhelmingly on female-only spaces and organisations to admit males: The Department of 
Internal Affairs says that 70% of the people who used existing legal mechanisms to change their birth 
certificates and/or passports in Aotearoa the last 10 years were males changing to ‘female’. In total, 140 birth 
certificates were changed over the last ten years. ​Self-declared sex changes will increase the number of 
people changing their legal sex and allow fully intact males to be recognised as female. 77% of 
transgender male persons have not had their penis surgically removed​ (‘Injustice at Every Turn’). 
Some ‘innate gender’ activists cite the Youth12​10​ survey to claim 1-4% of New Zealand’s population may be 
transgender - up to 187,000 people. Mx Jess Mio, who provided evidence​11​ to Select Committee has stated 
there are ‘probably’ about 100,000 transgender people in Aotearoa. The most accurate research we have so far 
(the US 2015 transgender survey with 28,000 participants) shows that there are more males who identify as 
women than there are females who identify as men.​12 
We sent out an urgent survey in order to represent as many women as possible in this submission. Sixty-five 
women responded. They all wanted female-only spaces to remain protected in New Zealand law. One man 
responded - he disagreed. Of the 65 women, 59 had experienced male violence directly or had a women close 
to them experience male violence. 55 women of the 65 had made use of a female only space as a response to 
male violence, threats or harassment at least once in their life. 
We asked women to explain why they value female-only spaces. Responses included: 
● “I had access to a female only rape crisis center. I was able to seek medical attention, do a police report, and get 
myself to a level of coping with my rape in an environment where I felt sheltered away from male violence.” 
● “Having a women’s only space saved my daughter’s life.”  

● “[Women’s only space is] like putting an oxygen mask on, not because all normal air is bad, but because in this 
instance, oxygen is what's most vital.” 
● “My daughter was able to escape from her abductor in a women’s bathroom.” 
● “Female only space is so important to recovery from abusive men.” 
● “I have used women's bathrooms to hide from aggressive men on multiple occasions.” 
Some women who have not​ u
​ sed​ f​ emale only spaces in response to male violence wrote, 
● “Thankfully we were both able to get out with help from family. I support female only refuges being available to 
● “I wanted to, but this was after it became popular to allow male people in to refuges, and I couldn't bring myself to do 
it because my assailant was a male who identified as a woman.” 
● “No, [I have not used a female only space as a response to male violence because] there were not many options 
available and there was no support among other people.” 
● “I'm afraid there weren’t any female only refuges where I live.” 
We asked women who had used female only spaces to take refuge from men why it mattered that space was 
● “Those spaces are safe because males aren’t allowed and everyone could fearlessly gate-keep that.”  
● “Both me and my mother were in situations where being away from a man was needed for us to either call for help or 
ask someone to help.” 
● “If males could just follow me into what was supposed to be a private, female-only safe space, especially a vulnerable 
place, that defeats the purpose.” 
● “It was the MOST important thing. I didn't want to be around males. I wanted to be around females, women who 
intrinsically understood what I had gone through or was going through.” 
● “Absolutely. How else could I escape? The presence of males completely destroys safe space for survivors.” 
We asked how women felt about single-sex spaces becoming mixed-sex, 
● “Women need privacy and safety from men. Even the presence of “harmless” men (and h
​ ow do we know which are 
harmless until it is too late?​ ie. they have proven they’re not?) puts women at stress and changes the dynamic in 
groups. Allowing men into all spaces means women have lost the basic right to privacy, as we are under male 
observation, and worse, at all times.” 
● “So long as misogyny and sexism exist, mixed-sex spaces will put women in danger. In an ideal world free of 
gender/sex roles and male violence there would be more mixed-sex spaces, but we don't live in it yet.” 

● “I do not want a man to walk in on me changing! I do not want a man listening to me go to the bathroom! I do not 
want a man to be able to follow me anywhere without being questioned because I am trying to get away from him! 
Enough is enough!” 
● “Women fought for YEARS to get sex segregated spaces to protect themselves from men. To remove that protection 

means we will be right back where we started. ​We weren’t consulted on this risk. Women have not given consent.​” 
The women who responded to our survey want their sex based rights to be protected. Any legislation which 
allows male transgender persons to be legally recognised as female should be written with this in mind. 
Overseas, male transgender persons have used changes to law (such as the proposed changes to the 
BDMRRA) to undermine the safety of women and girls. The Australian ​Erinyes Lesbians Feminist Network 
(ELFN) submitted to the Australian Human Rights Commission describing these risks in 2010​13​. The ELFN 
summarise Gottschalk’s 2009 paper​14​ ‘Women’s Space’: 
“In Gottschalk’s research women who were in charge of refuges, [Centres Against Sexual Assault] and Women’s 
Health Centres were interviewed regarding their experience with transgender inclusion, both as clients and as workers. 
Organisations that had not sought exemptions had policies of including male to constructed female (MTCF) transgendered 
people as clients and workers. Where transgendered people had been employed, or were clients of the service this had 
frequently turned out to be problematic for the female clients.” 
”Male to constructed female (MTCF) transgendered people,​ w
​ hile not necessarily intending to be threatening​, were to 
the women present, recognisably born as men and this caused the women present, especially women clients, to feel 
threatened. On other occasions, male-to-constructed-female (MTCF) transgendered people behaved inappropriately, for 
instance by harassing women-born female clients and, in their behaviour, showing a lack of understanding of women's 
experiences and women's needs.” 
It is important to note that while male transgender persons may not intentionally be intimidating women, many 
women still feel intimidated when sharing spaces with them. In April this year, A
​ ndrea Albutt, the president of 
the United Kingdom’s Prison Governors Association, told a Commons committee​15​ about the consequences of 
allowing male-bodied prisoners into the female prison estate:  
“I have seen women very scared in the situation of somebody who has a male body but identifies as a woman coming 
into a female prison or potentially coming into a female prison.” 
This fear is not unfounded. Dhejne et al.​16​ found male-to-females had a significantly increased risk for crime 
compared to female controls but not compared to males. This indicates that they retained a male pattern of 
criminality. The same was true regarding violent crime. New Zealand feminist Charlie Montague noted​17​, 

“Organisations representing transgender individuals in New Zealand have failed to commission or cite a single study 
which demonstrates that men who ‘identify as women’ display a rate of violence at or below the female crime rate. This is a 
crucial piece of evidence we need to see if their claim (that men who identify as women display female pattern behaviour) is 
true. Without that information, allowing men into spaces which are currently female-only knowingly places women at higher 
risk of assault.”  

Recommendation:​ Birth sex should be clearly visible on a birth certificate so that rights to single sex spaces, 
services and provisions can be applied on that basis, rather than on the grounds of a self declared ‘innate 
gender’ identity or ‘nominated sex’. Persons claim to ‘gender identity’ must not be privileged over birth sex. 
3. Lesbians are harmed by gender ideology and will be negatively impacted if it is enshrined in law 
A lesbian by definition is a homosexual female. This category is socially and politically useful.​18​ If the definition 
of female is redefined to include males, then protections for lesbians in New Zealand law will also be redefined 
to include males. This threatens the right to protection on the basis of lesbian orientation (Section 21, HRA 
1993) and, if lesbian groups refuse to include male transgender persons, will restrict our ability to advocate for 
lesbians as we currently do. Lesbians are still a marginalised and stigmatised group of women and we need 
the rights we currently have to remain secure. Lesbians experience discrimination on the grounds of both sex 
(sexism) and sexual orientation (homophobia).​19,20​ The idea that biological sex is less important than identity 
foundational to gender ideology.​21​ We oppose all attempts to remove lesbian specific rights. 
Male transgender persons counted as lesbians impacts the group in a number of ways: 
a) Male transgender persons counted as lesbians significantly alters the makeup of the lesbian 
Research by Sabia et al. (Australia) and Pew research (USA) has found gay and lesbian people make up 
approximately 1.6–1.7% of the population, but gay men far outnumber lesbians.​22, 23 Lesbians

approximately 1% of the female population. The New Zealand Youth 2012 survey found transgender-identified 
people made up 1-4% of the population, and the Williams Institute found 0.3–0.6%.​24 ​ Of transgender-identified 
people a majority are transgender males, most of whom are attracted to females (‘Injustice at Every Turn’). If 
transgender people are an average of 0.5% of the adult population, so 1% of the female population, and two 
thirds are transgender male persons (Department of Internal Affairs) then the transgender male person group 
is approximately 0.66 of the female population. Given two thirds of transgender male persons are attracted to 
females, that is approximately 0.45% of the female population - compared with 1% being lesbians.   

b) Male transgender persons counted as lesbians obscures important patterns: 
As illustrated above changing who is categorised as a lesbian significantly changes the makeup of the group 
‘lesbian’. This has implications for statistical analysis, research and measuring the effectiveness of policy 
interventions. The New Zealand Lesbian Health Survey​25 ​found lesbians delayed health seeking behaviour, had 
higher rates of injuries and poorer overall health compared to their heterosexual counterparts. It found ​87.5% 
had been abused by males but only 2.7% had been abused by females. When males are recognised as females 
the numbers of ‘females abusing females’ will increase. This feeds into the homophobic myth that lesbians are 
more violent than other women. 
Eating disorder prevalence in the New Zealand Lesbian Health Survey was 5.7%, significantly higher than the 
New Zealand female average of 2%.​26​ Over twenty times more females are diagnosed with eating disorders 
than males (Ministry of Health). More males counted as lesbians will bring the rate of lesbians with eating 
disorders down, obscuring an alarming trend. 
c) Clear identification of biological sex is essential for the representation of same-sex couples.: 
Changing the definition of biological sex in law will mean it is no longer be possible to identify same-sex 
couples as the definition of ‘lesbian’ will include those in a heterosexual relationship. For example, proposed 
‘self ID’ changes will impact on measuring the number of same-sex marriages. It will be no longer be possible 
to track who exactly is benefiting from marriage equality. 
c) Sexual harassment by male transgender persons towards lesbians: 
Transgender activists often dislike lesbians because exclusive same-sex attraction runs contrary to innate 
gender ideology.​27​ Transgender activists believe one should be attracted to feminine or masculine states of 
mind. They routinely describe both heterosexual and homosexual orientation as ‘problematic’ and 
‘closed-minded’.​28​ Persistent male-pattern harassment from transgender activists shows that ​lesbians need 
specific legal protection from male transgender persons, i​ ncluding​ male transgender persons who say they 
are lesbians. 
Transgender activists believe in a concept called ‘the Cotton Ceiling’.​29​ It is the belief that like the ‘glass-ceiling’ 
must be broken down to allow women into top-paying jobs, the underpants of lesbians are a ‘cotton-ceiling’ 
which must be broken down in order for male transgender persons to reach equality with women. This belief 
premised on the right to violate women’s boundaries has resulted in many lesbians being in unsafe situations. 

Of the 65 women who responded to our survey, 63 were familiar with the targeted sexual harassment of 
lesbians by the transgender community, on behalf of male transgender persons.  
We asked whether women were aware of cotton ceiling bullying: 
● “I'm painfully aware of it and it's made the lesbian community in my town go completely underground. We fear for our 
safety when we try to gather together.” 
● ““It most certainly goes a lot further than bullying.”” 
● “Yes, utterly vile. Pressuring lesbians to accept penis. Funny how they don't target men in the same way, eh?” 
● “Yes. It's disgusting to see. This is corrective rape culture and conversion therapy disguised as progressivism.” 
● “The trans community's arguments for why lesbians should have to date them is just flat out rape culture in my 
● “Yes, I avoid all queer events because of a predatory trans woman in Auckland who used to target lesbians for sex. 
Friends have had sex they did not want because trans women have been so manipulative women are afraid to say 
● “Yes, and it’s sickening. Sexually entitled males have been trying to pressure lesbians into accepting dick since the 
beginning of time, and this is just the latest iteration of it. The amount of lesbophobia being mainstreamed is 
absolutely horrifying. I am worried about the younger lesbians who don’t know how abnormal this is.” 
● “Very much so. The “cotton ceiling,” verbal abuse, assault and battery, stalking, and murder.” 
● “Lesbians are being told they are bigots and vagina fetishists for only wanting relationships with other female people.” 
We want you to understand the bullying going on towards lesbians as we believe it demonstrates the need for 
legal protections to remain on the basis of biological sex not identity.​25 
Recommendation:​ Lesbian women clearly want and need to retain our rights on the grounds of biological sex. 
We need to ensure we can be in spaces separate to male transgender persons. Please ensure that birth sex is 
marked on birth certificates (even if an identity marker is added) and that it can be referred to in order to 
ensure lesbian women retain the right to associate away from all males. 
Please be in touch via email if you wish to clarify any of our points, 
The Lesbian Rights Alliance of Aotearoa 

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