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Group says no to transgender changes on NIDS profiles

MINISTER of Justice Delroy Chuck said yesterday that the effort to introduce the NIDS Bill as early as possible is aimed at the majority of Jamaicans who are without any form of national identification.

Speaking at the close of yesterday’s meeting of a joint select committee (JSC), which he chairs, as it reviews the National Identification and Registration Act (NIRA), short-titled the NIDS Bill, Chuck refused to be drawn into a dispute with the Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society (JCHS) against allowing transgenders to amend their national identification after a sex change.

The minister noted that the vast majority of Jamaicans do not possess national identification for various reasons — including not being part of the electorate or are not in possession of a driver’s licence or a passport — but need to participate in the society.

“This NIDS effort will assist them to participate in some area of local life, or at least have an opportunity to have an ID,” the minister retorted after being warned by advocate officer for the JCHS, Philippa Davies who read the group’s submission to the NIDS committee at Gordon House yesterday.

Davies said that changes which have been suggested to identity information used for the ID could, under Clauses 9 (5) and (6) of the Bill, accommodate ‘sex-changed’ persons who want their new identity available on the identification, replacing the original information which had been taken from their birth certificates on the basis that the original information was now “incomplete, incorrect, misleading or otherwise in need of alteration”.

She suggested that the clauses could be used by an individual who had changed his/her appearance to that of the opposite sex, “or allow a grown man who has who has taken on the appearance and behaviour of a little girl to register their acquired or preferred identity”.

“We are strongly urging the insertion of a proviso to state: ‘Provided that no change in the sex recorded on the individual’s birth certificate shall be permitted,” she suggested.

She said that without such a clause, the NIDS Bill could become a system “based on genuine imagination, but not on reality”.

“We in Jamaica cannot be complacent about the safeguarding of one’s [sexual] identity, as we need to protect our sportswomen. There have been cases from overseas of men who have changed their appearances to that of females and then enter women’s races and win,” she noted.

One such athlete she referred to was Cece Telfer, whom she noted had been recognised in US media for rising from a virtually unknown athlete to a leading middle distance runner and top 400 metre hurdles contender since changing from a male to a female athlete.

Telfer is a former mid-level male athlete whose fortunes changed for the better after a sex change when he joined the Franklin Pierce University women’s track and field team and won the 400-metre women’s hurdles at the NCAA Division II outdoor track and field championships in 2019.

Davies also referred to an article in USA Today which had raised an issue about what seems to be a developing trend among male athletes who fail to make the grade doing a sex change and outperforming the female athletes they then begin running against.

“If we want to protect our girls and women in the field of local sports, then we must make it clear that changing from the sex recorded at birth will not be allowed in the NIDS Bill,” she insisted.

Davies is expected to return, when the committee meets again next week, to answer questions which are expected to be raised by members of the committee.

The national identification system, called NIDS, is said to be a unique, reliable and secure way of verifying an individual’s identity. Likely to be passed by both Houses of Parliament by year end, it is expected to become the primary source for identity assurance and verification, and will result in improved governance and management of social, economic and security programmes in Jamaica.

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