Australian Human Rights Commission consultation: terminology

Dear all

Thank you very much for your contribution to the Commission’s brief consultation regarding the terminology used to describe people with a range of sex identities and gender identities.

The majority of responses we received supported some means of separating issues relating to sexual orientation from those relating to sex and/or gender identity and those relevant to people who are intersex.

There was no consensus regarding the term ‘intersex and sex and/or gender diversity’. There was also not majority support for the use of the term ‘sex and gender diversity’. A number of submissions supported retention of the overall phrase Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex (LGBTI).

In response to the comments that we have received we have decided to proceed as follows:

1. We will create three distinct subsections within the one page on our website:

  • Sexual orientation and human rights
  • Sex and/or gender identity and human rights
  • Intersex people and human rights.

2. Within each of these subsections we will acknowledge the diverse range of identities and the range of human rights issues of concern.

3. Due to its internationally accepted use, and due to the submissions that argued for its retention, we will retain the use of the phrase LGBTI, only as the entry point to this part of the Commission’s website. We will replace the term ‘transgender’ with the term ‘trans’.

4. We will acknowledge the controversies regarding terminology at the top of this page.

We have raised the issues of concern about the use of the term ‘gender equality’ and ‘men’ and ‘women’ on the Commission’s website with the Sex Discrimination Commissioner who is currently considering these concerns.

Thank you again for your participation in this consultation.

The Commission is hoping to begin a small project regarding federal protection from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, sex identity and gender identity (including people who are intersex) shortly. We will be in touch again about this work towards the end of August.

Kind regards

Kate Temby
Acting Director
Human Rights Unit
Australian Human Rights Commission
Level 8 Piccadilly Tower, 133 Castlereagh St, Sydney NSW 2000
GPO Box 5218, Sydney NSW 2001
T +61 2 9284 9693   F +61 2 9284 9797   M 0410 645 113
E kate.temby at W

Editorial comment

This position contrasts rather starkly with the New Zealand Human Rights Commission who have already opted for transgender (TG) as an umbrella. The New Zealand position has all but erased intersex people

OII-NZ found that the conclusions reached in the New Zealand report – To Be Who I Am – were and remain profoundly influenced by the language and theory of ideological transgenderism.

The Australian position is consequently more objective. Along with a range of other stake-holders, OII was consulted and all the different views from a raft of quite recognizably different human experiences have been taken into consideration and used to formulate an inclusive and more humane response.

The end result appears to be a more balanced position than that of New Zealand. A position that will permit all the different stake-holders to be heard, instead of merely one or two at the expense of others.