A lot can change in 10 years - but violence and discrimination experience by trans people has not.

The 10-year milestone of the 2008 inquiry into Discrimination Experienced by Transgender People To Be Who I Am/Kia noho au ki toku ano ao is marked with frustration over a lack of progress.

The Human Rights Commission report, which was a world first at the time, contained nine key recommendations to empower trans people and a series of actions to do so.

But only one action is fully achieved and a handful have had no or little progress.

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Labour MP Louisa Wall has a history of campaigning for the rainbow community. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Labour MP Louisa Wall has a history of campaigning for the rainbow community. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The inquiry examined whether trans people experienced the rights laid out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to the same extent that other New Zealanders do.

Around 200 trans people met with the inquiry ranging from an 11-year-old intermediate student to a transwoman in her late 70s.

The key recommendations were:

​• ​Recognise and support leadership and advocacy of trans people

This is an ongoing recommendation to ensure diversity and representation of trans people in all areas of life, but specifically in the areas that affect them. The HRC notes all progress achieved is evidence of this recommendation in action.

​• ​Have government agencies increase consultation with trans people
Progress - In 2012 the Department of Internal Affairs worked collaboratively with trans people to develop a passport policy. Statistics NZ consulted trans people on the development of the statistical standard for gender identity, published in 2015.
The 2018 Census will not feature any questions about sexual orientation or gender identity.

​• ​Clarifying the Human Rights Act 1993 to include protection from discrimination of gender identity
Labour MP Louisa Wall fought to amend the bill to include gender identity in 2014. She proposed a change to the first prohibited grounds of discrimination from "sex, which includes pregnancy and childbirth" to "sex, which includes gender identity, pregnancy and childbirth".

However, her request was rejected by the select committee and Justice Minister Judith Collins.

​• ​Recognising that policies and practices inclusive of trans people are necessary to protect them from discrimination
A "Rainbow Desk" was set up by the Ministry of Social Development to advocate for the LGBT+ community. However, this was stopped due to a merge into other departments.

​• ​Develop a human rights education programme to address discrimination issues for trans people
Five workshops addressing human right sand discrimination for trans people were delivered in 2008 and 2009. The HRC's human rights education programme was delivered over three years, and then presented in schools when the Commission was approached.

​• ​Improve health care access, develop treatment pathways and standards of care for gender reassignment surgeries
After a health sector round table meeting in 2008 a Ministry of Health supported working group was established to develop guidance for the provision of appropriate health services for trans people. However in the same year the funding was cut and a smaller project was contracted to the Centre for Youth Health. A resulting good practice article was published in 2011.

Since 2015 the four Northern Regions DHBs have worked together to develop and provide health services for the trans community.

The recommendation to publish a case study on treatment pathways for trans people was not actioned, neither was the recommendation to develop national treatment pathways and agreed standards of care.

The HRC is not aware of any progress made in enablish health insurance cover for gender-affirming health care.

​• ​Simplify requirements for changing sex details on a birth certificate, passport and other document
This is fully achieved with passports and driver's licenses and easier with tertiary organisations. Birth certificates remain complicated to change.

The HRC was unsure whether progress had been made talking with border control to ensure the safety of trans passengers travelling on indeterminate gender passports.

• ​Amend section 28(3)(c)(i)(B) and (C) of the Births, Deaths and Marriages ​Registration Act 1995 by substituting the "physical conformity" with the requirement that someone has taken "decisive steps to live fully and permanently in the gender identity of the nominated sex".
Not achieved but there is support from a cross-party Government Administration Select Committee in 2017 who reviewed a community petition to Parliament.

​• ​Allowing the Family Court to make a declaration as to sex for overseas-born New Zealand citizens.
Those born overseas are now able to change their NZ Passport and Drivers License. Overseas born New Zealanders are also able to change the gender shown on their Citizenship record.

​• ​Consider specific human rights issues facing intersex people
Two Intersex Roundtables that exposed and explored the issues facing intersex people in 2008 and 2010. A further series of Roundtables in 2016 and 2017 prioritised five areas for action: definitions and data, education and awareness raising, political will and resources, service delivery and support, and legislative change.

The Commission continues to educate, raise awareness, and advocate for intersex human rights and has recently employed a full time advisor on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Sex Characteristics.

HRC human rights adviser for sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics and trans man Taine Polkinghorne is keen to see faster progress and collaboration. Photo / Supplied
HRC human rights adviser for sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics and trans man Taine Polkinghorne is keen to see faster progress and collaboration. Photo / Supplied

Trans man Taine Polkinghorne - who is the HRC human rights adviser for sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics - called the lack of progress "frustrating".

He said the purpose of the inquiry was to understand what life was like for trans New Zealanders in three key areas - their personal experience of discrimination, difficulty in accessing health care and barriers to getting legal recognition of their gender.

"The recommendations weren't a wish list, they were things trans people should already have access to.

"We know trans people face really high levels of discrimination and violence. We know if people look at you and know your trans they're pretty keen to tell you to your face.

"Things move really slowly… It is frustrating to deal with the pace of that."

Points of progress Polkinghorne noted were the fast evolution of language and increased ease changing gender markers on passports and driver licences. However, more work had to be done such as having questions regarding gender identity and sexual orientation included on the census.

The 2018 Census will not feature any questions about sexual orientation or gender identity.

This has huge impacts when it comes to fundraising, as organisations can't prove how many people they will affect or where they are, Polkinghorne said.

"The Government has a legal obligation to collect that data under the Human Rights Act. It's really important to understand this community and the diversity within it to humanise us.

"We are a small population but that doesn't mean we matter less. It's about being counted. It's 2018 and we're being left behind. That doesn't feel good."

Statistics Minister James Shaw said it was too late to change the 2018 Census, but was confident a new standard would be implemented before the 2023 Census.

Wall, who's 2013 bill legalised same-sex marriage in New Zealand, said there was a lot of work to do and the Government had committed to seven actions.

​• Improve access to affordable health care for younger trans and intersex New Zealanders
​• Fund PrEP and support ending HIV by 2025
​• Provide targeted suicide prevention funding
​• In schools eradicate discrimination, violence, bullying and self-harm
​• Support adoption by same sex partners
​• Improve access to services and rights for trans and intersex New Zealanders
​• End formal discrimination in law

"Trans/non-binary New Zealanders were being discriminated against in every facet of their existence as equal citizens of our country," Wall told the Herald.

"Their rights have yet to be fully realised.

"So, we must continue to report and include in status updates progress towards achieving those issues highlighted in the 2008 To Be Who I Am report."

Louisa Wall is congratulated by then Labour leader David Shearer, and current Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern after the Marriage Amendment Bill was passed in 2013. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Louisa Wall is congratulated by then Labour leader David Shearer, and current Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern after the Marriage Amendment Bill was passed in 2013. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Polkinghorne said collaboration and consultation with trans, intersex and non-binary people about issues that affect them was crucial to moving forward.

"Nothing about us without us, that's really important."

The Human Rights Commission has three workshops in the next two months to ask the wider LGBT+ community about their human rights and any recommendations or solutions they have.