Australia’s top court recognises ‘neutral’ third gender


The High Court has backed a case of gender neutral recognition in a ruling that could have ramifications across Australia.

Sydney resident Norrie, 52, has won a long-running legal battle against NSW’s Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages to be granted non-specific gender status.

Norrie, who goes by one name, was born male and underwent gender reassignment in 1989. But Norrie stopped taking hormones after surgery and no longer identifies as male or female.

In a world first in 2010, Norrie was given gender neutral status, but this was withdrawn months later by the NSW government, sparking a string of appeals and counter appeals which reached the High Court.

A unanimous judgment handed down on Wednesday found in Norrie’s favour.

“The act does not require that people who, having undergone a sex affirmation procedure … must be registered, inaccurately, as one or the other,” the court found.

Despite its ruling, the court repeatedly refers to Norrie as “she” and “her” in its judgment, citing that Norrie’s legal representatives used the terms in submissions.

Norrie’s lawyer, Scott McDonald, described the case outcome as a “persuasive authority” for other jurisdictions.

“It’ll be binding on the states that have identical or similar legislation,” he told reporters.

And for states such as Western Australia, with very different legislation, the judgment has sent a message the High Court doesn’t think gender is limited to male and female…