The High Court recognises gender neutral status

The High Court recognises gender neutral status

Last week the High Court of Australia recognised a Sydney person’s right to be recognised as ‘gender-neutral’ under the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act, 1995 (NSW).

‘Norrie’, who goes by only one name, was born male but underwent gender reassignment surgery in the 1980s to become a woman, identifies neither as male or female. Norrie commenced proceedings against the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages to be granted a gender non-specific birth certificate.

Norrie was famously granted a world-first non-specific gender status in 2010, but months later the NSW Government revoked the classification. When Norrie appealed the revocation the Registry took the matter all the way to the High Court. They argued “unacceptable confusion would flow from the acceptance of more than two gender categories, and that the purpose of a reaffirmation procedure is to assist a person to be considered a member of the opposite sex”.

Counsel for Norrie on the other hand, argued it is the Register’s purpose to record the truth. Norrie stopped taking hormones after surgery, preferring to live as neither male nor female.

The High Court agreed, finding that “Norrie’s sex remained ambiguous so that it would be to record misinformation in the Register to classify her as male or female… The act does not require that people who, having undergone a sex affirmation procedure… must be registered, inaccurately, as one or the other”.

Accordingly, Norrie’s application for non-specific status should now be reconsidered by the Registry in accordance with the High Court’s finding.

Norrie’s Solicitor, Scott McDonald, said the decision was likely to have similar repercussions in Queensland and Victoria which have similar state legislation to New Sout Wales, and for states such as Westerm Australia, with very different legislation, the judgement has sent a message that gender is not limited to male and female.

For more information on your legal rights contact Brazel Moore Lawyers on (02) 4324 7699 to speak to an experienced Solicitor today.

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