I am delighted to speak to the public interest debate brought by the member for Sydney, who has been a tireless advocate for the LGBTIQ+ community. I know he shares a deep conviction with many across the Parliament to improve the rights of transgender and gender diverse people in New South Wales. On behalf of the New South Wales Labor Opposition, I warmly thank him for bringing this motion to the House and offer our support. I represent a diverse and inclusive community that prides itself on being a welcoming, safe place for people who identify as transgender, gender diverse or non-binary. In our community, and across New South Wales, gender diverse people are loved and valued. I speak directly to you now and say that we in the Labor Party acknowledge your contribution to our community and we stand with you.

We also know there is so much more work to be done. Trans, gender diverse and non-binary people continue to face stigma, discrimination, violence and marginalisation. Studies show they are four times more likely to be diagnosed with depression, one in six will experience violence and seven in 10 will face some form of discrimination. That has a real cost. Up to half of all transgender and gender diverse people will attempt suicide in their lifetimes. They have also experienced additional risk during the pandemic. The sense of isolation and mental health pressures felt by many throughout the lockdown have been especially acute for many trans and gender diverse people, including those living in less than loving households. The lockdown complicated the process of accessing hormones and other medical services, and the subsequent recession continues to disproportionately impact vulnerable groups.

Thankfully, extraordinary community groups have been there to ensure no-one is left behind. I acknowledge the leadership, commitment and care of groups including the Gender Centre, ACON, the Inner City Legal Centre, Twenty10, Trans Pride Australia and Equality Australia. In fact, today ACON launched its trans COVID care program designed to provide social and health resources, as well as some financial resources, including shopping vouchers, to support the community through this difficult year. These organisations do critical work, often in difficult circumstances. There can be no doubt that they change lives and save lives. Other organisations are also stepping up to support their trans and gender diverse members, including Rainbow Families NSW, which recently worked with Jac Tomlins to develop a guide to support trans and gender diverse parents.

Our sporting fields have also become safer and more inclusive. Last year Support Australia partnered with the Human Rights Commission and a coalition of sports to develop guidelines for the inclusion of trans and gender diverse people in sport. This month, Pride in Sport reports that eight peak sporting bodies have signed up: the AFL, Cricket Australia, Hockey Australia, Netball Australia, Rugby Australia and the NRL. As well as improving the wellbeing and health of trans and gender diverse people by encouraging participation in elite and community sport, these measures will increase visibility of trans and gender diverse athletes. That sends a powerful message to young people in the community that they are part of the Australian story and every facet of Australian life.

Community organisations cannot do this work alone, and we have a responsibility as legislators to make sure that they are properly funded and to update laws to reflect the lives of people in the community. Currently, New South Wales law requires that trans and gender diverse people undergo a sex affirmation procedure before being able to change the recorded sex on their birth certificate. It is important to recognise that not all people want to undergo such a procedure and that the current requirement is unnecessary, outdated and cruel. It must change.

ACON's Blueprint for Improving the Health and Wellbeing of the Trans and Gender Diverse Community spells out a series of priorities that this Parliament has a responsibility to work towards. Those priorities are: clear and easy pathways for accessing gender-affirming care; affordable and accessible gender‑affirming health care; an inclusive and knowledgeable health sector that responds to the needs of the trans and gender diverse communities; reform around identification processes and documentation; ensuring respectful workplaces and education settings; and fostering a vibrant, resourced trans and gender diverse community advocating for its own needs and priorities.

We must prioritise services that allow trans and gender diverse people in our community to live with dignity and to thrive. We must ensure trans and gender diverse members of our community are treated fairly on the sports field, at work, at school, and in all aspects of life. We must treat trans and gender diverse people with the respect they deserve as equals and that includes resisting attacks which represent the worst forms of discrimination and transphobia, especially when they come from within this Parliament. Together we can make sure that New South Wales is the safest and most inclusive place in the world for transgender and gender diverse people to live.