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Tuesday, 11 September 2018
Page: 6069

Senator McKIM (Tasmania) (17:12): We heard what our Prime Minister thinks about conversion therapy when he abjectly failed to utterly condemn conversion therapy, as he should have. We know that he believes there are what he calls 'gender whisperers' in our schools. Other senators have spoken about those things. I only have a couple of minutes this afternoon, so I want to tell the Senate about my stepson and very good friend, Jasper Lees—a man that I love very much. Jasper is a transman. He was born as a man but in a woman's body. I want to say to our Prime Minister: please, can you just think about that for a minute. Think about how that would feel.

Jasper had two choices. One choice was to reject who he really was, to live a lie for the rest of his life; the other choice was to embrace who he truly is and to live as the man that he actually is. I'm so proud of him that that was the choice he made. I can say to our Prime Minister that when he made that decision—a decision that made me so proud of him and was the embodiment of courage, bravery and self-awareness—a transformation came over Jasper. And he is, as I speak today, someone whom I admire very much.

I want to place on the record, though, that in most states in our country transgender people cannot change their gender on their birth certificate unless they have surgery to remove their reproductive organs. And when the letters arrive for Jasper, who still lives with his mum and me today, with his old name, Mara, on them, I see his face—when he gets these letters from government departments and government agencies—because they're not actually addressed to him; they're addressed to somebody else. But he can't change his gender on his birth certificate unless he has surgery to rip out the female reproductive organs that remain in his body.

Now, it's to the Tasmanian government's credit that they've indicated that they want to change the law in Tasmania, something for which the Greens have been campaigning for a very long time. But the reason I shared the story about Jasper with the Senate today is to remind us all, and hopefully remind the Prime Minister, that trans people are human beings. They have all the same frailties and strengths as all the rest of us and they should be treated equally to the rest of the population.