Trials & Litigation

'Spansexual' may register gender as nonspecific, Australia's top court rules

A person who identifies as “spansexual”—neither man nor woman—may register a “nonspecific” gender on official certificates in New South Wales, Australia’s High Court ruled last week.

The court ruled last week in the case of Australian resident Norrie May-Welby, 52, report the New York Times, the Daily Record and the Herald Scotland. The court found that the 1995 Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act in New South Wales recognizes that a person may be neither male nor female. Five of seven Australian states and territories have laws with the same language, so the ruling is expected to apply to most of the country, the Times says.

May-Welby was a male when born in Scotland, but had gender reassignment surgery in 1989. Still, Norrie-May-Welby felt both male and female and identifies as “spansexual.” The court used feminine pronouns when referring to May-Welby, as used by her lawyers in court documents, the Herald Scotland says. She also likes the pronouns “xie” or “hir,” according to the New York Times.

“Maybe people will now understand there are more options than the binary,” May-Welby told the Herald Scotland after the decision. “Even if a person is specifically male or female, their friends might not be, and hopefully people might be a little bit more accepting of that.”

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