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High Court decision - gender 'non-specific'

The High Court made a decision last week that permits the Registrar of the NSW Births, Deaths and Marriages to register that a person’s sex is 'non-specific'. Norrie, who had undergone a 'sex affirmation procedure', applied to the Registrar under the Act to register both a change of sex to 'non-specific' and a change of name.

This decision of the High Court gives formal legal recognition to people who do not identify as male or female.  It has been a long road for Norrie, who does not identify with being either male or female.  This is a victory for androgynous people and also provides an option for others who are born with ambiguous genitalia.

This matter has been discussed in a number of earlier court decisions.  In 2011, the Court of Appeal upheld Norrie’s appeal, however, the NSW Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages appealed by special leave to the High Court.

The High Court decided that the Act recognises that a person may be neither male nor female and so permits the registration of a person's sex as 'non-specific'. The High Court ordered that Norrie's applications be remitted to the Registrar for determination in accordance with its reasons and otherwise dismissed the appeal.

Source: High Court of Australia, media release, 2 April 2014.

Court decision

NSW Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages v Norrie [2014] HCA 11, 2 April 2014.

The Family Case Library entry for this decision has now been updated Norrie v NSW Registrar of Births Deaths & Marriages – 'non-specific' sex – official recognition.

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