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AKIPRESS.COM - Australia's highest court on Wednesday recognized the existence of a third "non-specific" gender that is neither male nor female, in a landmark ruling campaigners said will help end years of discrimination.
The High Court ruled that not everyone should be forced to identify as a man or woman when dealing with officials, saying some people could legitimately describe themselves as gender neutral.
"The High Court... recognizes that a person may be neither male nor female, and so permits the registration of a person's sex as 'non-specific'," it said in a unanimous judgement. The decision ended a long legal battle by sexual equality campaigner Norrie to overturn a New South Wales state edict that gender is an inherently "binary" concept involving only men or women.
The 53-year-old, who uses only a single name, was born male and underwent gender reassignment surgery in 1989 to become a woman. But the surgery failed to resolve the Scottish-born activist's ambiguity about sexual identity, prompting a push for the recognition of a new, non-traditional gender.
Norrie made global headlines in February 2010 when an application to the NSW Department of Births, Deaths and Marriages accepted that "sex non-specific" could be accepted for Norrie's records. But soon afterwards the office revoked its decision, saying the certificate was invalid and had been issued in error. At the time, Norrie said the decision felt like being "socially assassinated."
That sparked a series of appeals which resulted in the NSW Court of Appeal recognizing Norrie as gender neutral last year, a decision which the High Court backed on Wednesday, Globalpost.com reported.