Australian court recognizes third category of gender


A Sydney resident, who fought to be legally recognised as being of non-specific sex, praised a New South Wales High Court decision on Wednesday allowing for the registration of a sex other than male or female.

Norrie – who didn’t give a surname – was born male but had a sex change and wants not to be identified as either male or female.

In 2010, Norrie applied for a name change and to be registered as of non-specific sex.

The registrar initially approved the request, but subsequently revoked it, arguing it was beyond the power of the law to recognise options other than male and female, Australian media reported.

Norrie challenged the decision and in 2013 the New South Wales Court of Appeal ruled that existing laws could indeed recognise other sex options.

The registrar challenged that ruling in Australia’s High Court, but on Wednesday the High Court dismissed the appeal, reaching a unanimous decision that the law does recognise that a person may be neither male nor female.

“I’m overjoyed that it has happened, and it has happened so swiftly and decisively,” Norrie told reporters in Sydney after learning of the High Court’s decision.

“It has been a long time from the start to the end but this is a great, great outcome.”

Norrie said that people from around the world had been in touch to say they also wanted to be recognised as being of non-specific sex.

The New South Wales government is considering the possible legal and policy implications of the High Court ruling, local media reported.

It remained unclear how the ruling would apply to people who considered themselves of non-specific sex, but who had not undergone surgery, to be able to formally identify themselves as gender neutral.

Samuel Rutherford, of Australian gender awareness group ‘A Gender Agenda’, said he hoped the ruling would speed up the process for other Australians seeking similar recognition.

“It could be an intersex person, it could be a transgender person, it could be someone whose identity is neither male nor female, but the really important thing is that it’s about personal identification by that person,” Rutherford told reporters in Canberra.

Norrie hopes the ruling will improve equality for people who don’t see themselves as male or female.

“They should be recognised as whatever they are and allowed to participate in society at an equal level,” Norrie told reporters.

The Australian Capital Territory recently passed a law recognising a third category of sex, and the Australian federal government is now creating guidelines for its own departments to allow similar recognition, local media reported.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Share This

Leave a Reply

Connect with Facebook