The High Court has today upheld an appeal by two Western Australian (female-to-male) trans men who challenged the interpretation of the WA Gender Reassignment Act.
The two took their challenge to the High Court after they were denied a change to their birth certificates because they had not had a hysterectomy.
Both had bilateral mastectomies and were considered infertile due to testosterone treatment.
An alliance of trans and intersex groups have welcomed the news and said the decision could set a precedent for other states.
TransGender Victoria spokesperson Sally Goldner said the High Court ruling is in line with the Australian Human Rights Commission’s 2009 Sex Files report which recommends surgery should not be a pre-requisite for the legal recognition of a change of sex.
“The High Court ruled that the law should be applied in a beneficial way that makes life easier, not harder for people, and therefore that there was no justification for requiring people to have costly and unnecessary surgeries in order to have their sex recognised,” Goldner said.
WA Gender Project spokesperson Aram Hosie said the decision will have a positive impact on the lives of trans people in WA.
“The High Court’s decision will now make it much easier for transsexual people in Western Australia to obtain documentation that accurately reflects their identity and physical appearance,” Hosie said.
“Previously transsexual people in Western Australia, as in other parts of the country, have been unable to legally amend their sex without invasive, medically unnecessary surgeries that may be unwanted, impractical or unattainable.”
“This has resulted in difficulties in proving one’s identity on essential documentation, a loss of privacy, and the risk of exposure to discrimination, harassment and sometimes even violence.”
A Gender Agenda spokesperson Peter Hyndal called on state governments around the country to “reflect” on the High Court’s decision in their interpretation and administration of laws around gender reassignment.
Hyndal also paid tribute to pro bono support of Freehills lawyers.