No longer must you be registered as a man or woman in the registry of births, deaths and marriages in New South Wales. Thanks to the efforts of Norrie, the self-proclaimed “odd bod” who lives as gender-neuter and who underwent sex affirmation surgery, the NSW Court of Appeal officially recognized the existence of intersex and non-binary genders for the first time.
What was at first a small victory for Norrie alone when xe* was issued the first ever official government card marked “gender not specified”, but became a personal heartbreak when the media picked it up and the government reversed its previous decision claiming the card was “issued in error”, has become the law of the land** after its second reversal by the Court of Appeal:
It overturned a ruling that everyone must be registered as a man or a woman with the registry of births, deaths and marriages. Previously this right was restricted to passports.
It is also likely to be drawn upon as a guide for cases interstate.
”This is the first decision that recognises that ‘sex’ is not binary – it is not only ‘male’ or ‘female’ – and that we should have recognition of that in the law and in our legal documents,” said Emily Christie, one of Norrie’s solicitors, from DLA Piper.
The Human Rights Law Centre’s Hugh de Kretser said the court’s decision would be ”persuasive” in legal disputes in other states. ”Agencies, non-government organisations will be looking to apply this more broadly than just in NSW,” he said.
This is fantastic and heartening news. If only all governments, federal and local, would take this as a cue and make this simple, unobtrusive change in their data collection methods. Sex is not binary. Gender is not binary. Treating it as such devalues the lived experience of these people who are not so easily pigeonholed.
Hat tip to Ronja Addams-Moring via Facebook.
* (pronoun preference not specified — I’m making a guess.)
** New South Wales is a state of Australia, and this law does not extend through the whole land. Yet.