A Scot who is the world’s first officially genderless person is facing a fresh court battle to keep the controversial status.
Norrie May-Welby originally from Paisley is determined to fight a challenge to a previous court verdict giving the 52-year-old the right to have “sex not specified” on official birth certificate documentation. And Norrie, who now lives Down Under, will go to Australia’s highest court this week in a bid to stop officials from overturning the hard-won victory.
Norrie told The Sunday Post: “The court was very thorough in its decision to allow for fair treatment for those whose sex is not distinctly mail or female.
“I’m disappointed but it’s not unexpected.”
Norrie was born male but had a sex-change op in 1990.
Life as a female didn’t feel quite right either so Norrie decided to become a “spansexual”.
After The Sunday Post revealed Norrie’s remarkable story three years ago, there was an international media storm. But the registrar’s office in Sydney then decided to withdraw the non-gender specific birth certificate they had issued.
Norrie fought that decision at the New South Wales Court of Appeal last year and won. In what Norrie’s lawyers described as “a landmark ruling for androgynous transgender persons”, the court ruled that sex is not limited to male or female but can include other categories.
After the court decision Norrie’s solicitor Emily Christie, who fought the case for free, said: “The ruling is significant. It effectively allows for sex diverse individuals to have their true identity legally recognised.”
But the New South Wales registrar has hit back and has now lodged papers with the High Court of Australia in an attempt to overturn the earlier judgment.
On Friday, the registrar will ask the High Court for leave to appeal against Norrie’s victory.
Norrie admitted: “I’ve had a while to adjust to the idea. It’s been a slow game of ping pong from day one. The legal game is the one we’re playing and the rules say either side can take it all the way to the High Court, so here we are at last. It may be that, after the hearing, the judgement is reserved, possibly for months, so I’m not getting frantic with anticipation.”
Australian immigrants who want to have their change of sex recorded for official purposes are given a special “birth certificate” called a Recognised Details Certificate.
Doctors confirmed they were unable to say whether Norrie was a man or a woman and the Scot was delighted when authorities agreed in 2010 to put “not specified” in the “sex” section of the certificate.
But the worldwide interest in Norrie’s unique status sparked a change of heart. Legal sources say the registrar will have to give up and accept the change permanently if leave to appeal isn’t granted.
A legal insider added: “The Court of Appeal decision ruling that the law can recognise people who exist outside the traditional male-female understanding of sex was a fantastic outcome for Norrie and for others who do not identify as male or female.
“They are obviously keen for that decision to stand.”
The New South Wales Registry of Births Deaths & Marriages said: “As the matter is before the court, we cannot comment.”
Norrie left Scotland at the age of seven following a family decision to emigrate.
“We went on a £10 assisted passage,” said Norrie, who has a home in Sydney. “Scotland is a great place to come from. My happiest memories of my early years are reading Oor Wullie in The Sunday Post.”
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