‘Sex Not Specified’

March 9, 2010

Interesting post in The Scavenger, although I’ve not seen it reported anywhere else.

Norrie, a member of Sex and Gender Education (SAGE), a lobby group campaigning for the rights of all sex and gender diverse people has been issued with what is understood to be the world’s first ‘Sex Not Specified’ Recognised Details Certificate in place of a birth certificate.

This means that Norrie (also known as norrie mAy-Welby) – a resident of Sydney, NSW – is legally recognised as neither male nor female according to the Australian government.

For a long time after transitioning, Norrie had felt uncomfortable identifying as either male or female and now describes hirself as an androgynous human.

Having gender markers as part of our legal identity is a problem for everyone facing gender discrimination, and anyone who does not fit the standard options of male or female.

Not everyone does, you know, with one in a thousand people being born with an intersex condition, and other people of sex or gender diversity, such as transsexuals in transition, or bigendered people who may identify as either male or female or both, according to the situation or time of day.

Having received a medical declaration that Norrie is neither male nor female – zie has no gonads, an atypical hormonal system and hir psychological identity was neuter –

NSW Births Deaths and Marriages then issued the ‘Sex Not Specified’ Details Recognition Certificate in accordance with recommendations made by the Australian Human Rights Commission’s 2009 report on the legal rights of sex and gender diverse people proposing a greater scope of legal recognition be used beyond male and female for certain individuals.

This is thought to be the first such legal documentation issued anywhere in the world and as Tracie O’Keefe, spokesperson for SAGE Australia, says:

“This decision now has fundamental ramifications for neuter and intersex identified individuals in that they no longer have to be forced to live as male or female.”

“Furthermore it is an enormous legal breakthrough for the rights of intersex children whose doctors and parents are confused about their sex at births and that they could be registered as ‘Sex Not Specified’ until they decide what sex would be right for them.”

“Many intersex children have been forced into male and female identities, when not medically necessary, which they later felt were incorrect, including unnecessary brutal surgery to give them stereotypical looking genitalia, often leaving them without sensation or function.”

I don’t think there can be any doubt that this is an important step on the path to securing the full human rights so often denied to intersex people by the medical profession’s enforced normalisation in its attempts to impose binary conformity on everyone.

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(Cross-posted at Questioning Transphobia)

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