ABC News: High Court Recognises Third Category of Sex

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

The High Court has ruled New South Wales laws do permit the registration of a third category of sex other than male or female.

Sydney resident Norrie was born male but had a sex change and now does not identify as specifically male or female. Norrie has been fighting the NSW Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages to have a sex change formally registered as 'non-specific'. When Norrie applied for a name change and to be registered as being of non-specific sex in 2010, the registrar at first agreed. But that recognition was revoked, with the registrar arguing it was beyond the power of the law to recognise options other than male or female.

Norrie went on to challenge the decision and last year the NSW Court of Appeal found the existing law could recognise additional options. The registrar turned to the High Court in an attempt to have that decision overturned, but today the court dismissed the appeal. It reached the unanimous decision that the law does recognise a person may be neither male nor female. The court ordered Norrie's application for registration be remitted to the registrar for determination.

Norrie, who had been quietly confident of winning the case, says it is a big win for the wider transgender community.

"I tried to keep an open mind about it but I wasn't entirely surprised by the verdict today. I'm overjoyed that it has happened, it happened so swiftly and decisively," Norrie said.

"It's important for people to have equal rights in society and if some people are granted the right to have their sex and certain benefits that go along with that then why shouldn't everyone have that right?

"Why should people be left out because they're not seen as male or female? They should be recognised as whatever they are and allowed to participate in society at an equal level."

The state's Attorney-General is not commenting on the High Court decision.

A spokeswoman says the Government is considering the judgement and any legal and policy implications.

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