THE High Court has ruled that NSW laws permit registration of a third “non specific” category of sex other than male or female.

The verdict that was passed this morning means Sydney resident Norrie — whose pursuit to be recognised as neither male or female was brought to the court by NSW Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages — has become first trans* person in Australia to win a legal case to be identified as “non-specific” gender.

Norrie was born biologically male and had gender reassignment as an adult in 1989 to become a woman, but identified as neither male nor female and had applied to the registrar for a name change and to be legally recognised as a non-specific gender.

After initially agreeing, the registrar then revoked the decision as they stated that NSW law did not recognise options other than male or female.

Norrie then challenged the decision and last year the NSW Court of Appeal found state law could recognise additional options.

However, the registrar went to the High Court to have that decision overturned, claiming the law limited registration to male or female and Norrie had to choose.

The High Court’s verdict this morning is a legal recognition by the highest court in the country that sex is no longer just male or female and could have far-reaching implications around the nation.

Social media has since been awash with congratulatory messages for Norrie.

Lobby group A Gender Agenda, who made a submission to the High Court on the case, has previously said the court needed to be careful with the wording it used in its decision so as to ensure any changes would not cut out others affected by the situation. 

They had said “unspecified” or “not stated” would be preferable in cases such as Norrie.

Meanwhile, Organisation Intersex International Australia have welcomed the High Court’s decision to allow for a “non specific” gender identity for Norrie.

The group was initially concerned about what impact the verdict’s wording could have had on intersex people, as they had said Norrie was not an intersex person and that the case was about gender identity, not biology.

The ACT recently passed a new law recognising a category other than male or female, and is the only jurisdiction to legally recognise a third option that caters to intersex people. Australian passports also recognise a third category.

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