Gender identity

The Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person because of their gender identity.

The Act also makes it unlawful to publicly vilify a person because of their gender identity.

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Meaning of gender identity

Gender identity, in relation to a person, means that the person:

  • identifies, or has identified, as a member of the opposite sex by living or seeking to live as a member of that sex; or
  • is of indeterminate sex and seeks to live as a member of a particular sex.

It is not necessary that a person has undergone a sex change, hormone treatment or other surgery, to bring a complaint of gender identity discrimination, as long as they fit the definition of gender identity.

It is also unlawful to:

  • discriminate against a person because of a presumption about their gender identity (whether correct or not);
  • discriminate against a person because of their association with, or relation to a person identified on the basis of their gender identity (such as a friend, family member or co-worker).

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Gender identity discrimination

Gender identity discrimination includes:

  • treating a person less favourably because of their gender identity than someone in similar circumstances with a different gender identity;
    Note: less favourable treatment can include verbal insults, threats, intimidation and violence if it is done because of a person's gender identity.
  • imposing an unreasonable requirement or condition which disadvantages people because of their gender identity.

The gender identity discrimination provisions cover most aspects of public life including:

  • when at work or applying for work (recruitment, employment benefits, training, transfers, promotion and dismissal);
  • when getting goods or services (such as from shops, banks, tradespeople, hotels, entertainment venues, hospitals, professions such as doctors, lawyers and accountants, applying for insurance or a loan);
  • when getting accommodation (such as a house, flat, motel room, caravan);
  • when applying to study at a school, college or university and in the course of a person's student life;
  • when dealing with state or local government (including police);
  • when joining a club or other aspects of club membership.

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Gender identity discrimination examples

  • A refrigeration mechanic who advised his employer of plans to transition from male to female was dismissed. The employer said that he would lose business because clients wouldn't accept a transgender mechanic.
  • A high school student transitioning from female to male changed his name with his parents' assistance and support. There were meetings with school staff, but one teacher insisted on calling the student by his former name and humiliating him in front of the class.
  • A male to female transgender person was told by a publican not to use the female toilet.
  • A shop keeper refused to serve a transgender person saying I'm not going to serve you - freak, pervert - get out. You're turning customers away.

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Birth certificates

If a person has undergone sexual reassignment surgery, and their birth or adoption was registered in Queensland, they can apply to have their new gender noted in the birth or adoption register.

A replacement birth certificate in the new gender will be issued following the change in the register on return of the original birth certificate.

More information about birth certificates and gender identity in Queensland is available from the Births, deaths and marriages website. Link to external website

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Gender identity discrimination exemptions

Competitive sporting activity

It is not unlawful to restrict participation in a competitive sporting activity on the basis of gender identity, if the restriction is reasonable having regard to the strength, stamina or physique requierments of the activity.

Work in a person's own home

It is not unlawful for a person to discriminate on the basis of gender identity, when employing someone in their own home to perform domestic services or look after their children.

Work with children

It is not unlawful for a person to discriminate on the basis of gender identity in employment if:

  • the work involves the care or instruction of minors AND
  • the discrimination is reasonably necessary to protect the physical, psychological or emotional wellbeing of minors having regard to all the relevant circumstances of the case.

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Information and enquiry service

Individuals, employers and business operators can access the Commission's statewide telephone information and enquiry service.

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Making a complaint

Make a complaint to the Commission on the Complaint Form about gender identity  discrimination.

The complaint must be lodged with the Commission within 1 year of the discrimination happening.

The Commission's service is free.

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Federal protections for gender diverse persons

If you hold or express an identity other than male or female (e.g. gender fluid, gender queer), you may lodge a complaint with the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC). The AHRC administers the federal Sex Discrimination Act , which has a different definition of gender identity than the Anti-Discrimination Act (Qld).

More information about federal gender identity discrimination laws.Link to external website

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