Transgender Rights and Discrimination in NSW

Transgender Rights and Discrimination in NSW

Just as it is illegal to discriminate based on a person’s sexual orientation or race, New South Wales law also prevents the mistreatment of transgender people.

What is transgender?

Anti-discrimination law in New South Wales states that those who live, have lived or want to live as a member of the opposite sex to which they were born, can be ‘transgender’. This includes those who are in the process of switching gender, and those whose gender is indeterminate.

Contrary to popular belief, a person does not need to have undergone surgery to view themselves as transgender.

In New South Wales, a ‘recognised transgender’ person refers to someone who is legally recognised as being of their preferred gender. For example, if they’ve had their birth certificate amended, or a new one issued. If someone is ‘recognised transgender’, they can’t force people to treat them as their preferred gender, but discrimination law still applies.

To what situations does transgender anti-discrimination law apply?

The law states that, if you class yourself as transgender, you must be treated fairly:

  • in employment,
  • in education,
  • when buying or receiving goods or services,
  • when renting accommodation, and
  • when attempting to enter or sign up to a registered club – this includes pubs, bars and casinos.

It is also against the law to incite hatred of, or ridicule transgender people in a public way. This is known as ‘transgender vilification’, and can be verbal or non-verbal. For example, anti-transgender graffiti and posters would fall foul of this law.

What rights does a victim of discrimination have?

It depends on the nature of the harassment, and the situation in which it takes place.

Those discriminating against or harassing you might not even realise they are doing it. As a first response, you might try to talk to them. If this isn’t going to work, escalate by talking to your employer (if it’s an issue at work) or management (if you’re experiencing issues at venue). Further than that, you might go to your trade union, or write to a local politician.

New South Wales has an anti-discrimination board (ADB), to which you can make a complaint. This is a last resort, once you’ve exhausted your other options. Once you’ve contacted the ADB, they can investigate your complaint and, if they find it to be against the law, can help both parties reach a private, mutual settlement.

If it is a serious issue that has affected your employment, you may need to seek legal advice from an employment lawyer.

For more information about discrimination and other areas of Australian law, take a look through the wealth of articles on the Legal Blog.

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