Registered psychologists will be included in new regulations that will come into place in June 2023. They will be listed as a type of suitably qualified third party that is eligible to provide letters of support for a child or young person’s application to amend the sex or gender shown on their birth certificate.
As you may be aware, the Government is working on regulations to support the new self-identification process for amending sex on birth certificates, which is set to come into force in June (see sections 23-27 of the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 2021, particularly sections 24-25). In essence, the current Family Court process will be replaced with a self-identification process.
Children and young people will have access to this process, but with additional requirements:
- 16- and 17-year-olds will require either guardian consent or a letter of support from a suitably qualified third party (see section 24(1)(c)(i) and (ii))
- Those aged 15 and under will require both their guardian to fill the application and a letter of support from a suitably qualified third party (see section 25(1)(c)(i) and (ii).
One of the matters considered in the development of these regulations is who can qualify as a “suitably qualified third party.” The regulations will specify registered doctors, registered psychologists, registered psychotherapists, registered nurses and nurse practitioners, registered social workers, and qualifying counsellors, as well as a person (aged 18 years or older) that has known the child or young person for at least 12 months, as third parties that can provide a letter of support.
The regulations will require registered professionals to be registered with the relevant professional body in order to provide letters of support.
Letters of support
While registered psychologists will be eligible to provide a letter of support, they will be able to decline to do so.
In the letter of support, the third party must confirm that the child or young person understands the consequences of amending the sex on their birth certificate, and that it is the child or young person’s preference (see section 24(1)(c)(ii)(A) and (B), also section 25(1)(c)(i) and (ii)) . The third party is not assessing whether the decision is in the child’s best interests. The Department of Internal Affairs will develop and share guidance on this for you and your members.
You can see more about suitably qualified third parties and letters of support (including a YouTube clip) on our website, bdmreview – suitably qualified third parties – dia.govt.nz. DIA has also proactively released cabinet papers and policy documents if you’d like to read more about this, and this can be found here.