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No longer just boy or girl

13 May 2014

The Australian Capital Territory has become the first jurisdiction in the country to allow people to be registered on their birth certificates as neither male nor female.

In an amendment that come into force late last month, a new category of Intersex/Indeterminate/Unspecified will be included in all ACT birth certificates, and can be nominated by people who are intersex or who identify as having an indeterminate or unspecified gender.

Executive Director of the ACT Government’s Office or Regulatory Services, Brett Phillips, said the amendment also dropped the requirement that those who wanted to change the sex on their birth certificate had to have undergone sexual reassignment surgery.

Instead, he said, “a person born in the ACT who wishes to change their sex must provide evidence that they are either an intersex person, or that they have received appropriate clinical treatment for alteration of the person’s sex”.

In addition, the amendment has extended to time allowed for parents to register a birth, from 60 days to six months, to “reduce pressure on parents of babies who are not clearly male or female, by allowing additional time to make complex decisions about the registered sex of their child”, Mr Phillips said.

The changes coincided with a landmark High Court ruling that quashed an attempt by the NSW Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages to register an androgynous person called Norrie as either a male or female.

In an earlier hearing, NSW Court of Appeal ruled in support of Norrie’s application, declaring that “as a matter of construction ... the word sex does not bear a binary meaning of ‘male’ or ‘female’.”

The High Court ordered that Norrie’s applications be sent back to the Registrar for determination in accordance with its reasons, and dismissed the Registrar's appeal.

Adrian Rollins

Published: 13 May 2014