Oregon court rules transgender as 'non binary' in US first

"Gender plays a large part of a person's identity, both "practically and profoundly"

"Gender plays a large part of a person's identity, both "practically and profoundly"

A US court has ruled a transgender can legally change their sex to "non binary" rather than male or female in what US legal experts are saying is the first known ruling of its kind in the United States.  

On Friday, the Oregon court ruled Oregon resident, Jamie Shupe, could legally change her gender from female to non binary.

Shupe who was born a male and began transitioning to female in 2013, identifies as neither male nor female. Shupe is quoted as saying neither male nor female titles fit their identification process, and successfully petitioned for non binary gender in Friday's historic US ruling.

Gender plays a large part of a person's identity, both "practically and profoundly", says Melbourne lawyer, Anna Brown from the Human Rights Law Centre. Globally, laws surrounding this issue are complex. 

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Brown compared the Shupe ruling to the 2014 NSW case of transgender Norrie, who won their appeal to be registered as neither man nor woman with the NSW Registry of Birth, Deaths and Marriages in an Australia-wide ruling.

"Law and policy are seemingly catching up on the reality of gender diversity reflected in society today," says Ms Brown. "This comes at a time where Australia is considering its reform to Human Rights."

To change a person's designated sex, Oregon law requires a court judgment. Shupe's civil rights attorney, who filed the petition, countered the law stated no specification of whether the gender change petition has to be male or female. 

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In 2014 a failed US petition to the White House for a ruling for non binary gender to be legally recognised, referenced  Australia, New Zealand and British law.

"Legal documents in the United States only recognise 'male' and 'female' as genders, leaving anyone who does not identify as one of these two genders with no option. Australia and New Zealand both allow an X in place of an M or an F on passports for this purpose, and the UK recognises 'Mx' [pronounced Mix] as a gender-neutral title." 

Since 2011, Australians can identify as male (M), female (F) or indeterminate/intersex/unspecified (X) on their passports with documentation, regardless of whether they have undergone a sex change operation. Laws for preferred gender recognition on cardinal birth documents differentiate by State, and Territory to whether gender reassignment surgery is necessary. In 2014, the Australian Capital Territory passed legislation that removed the surgery requirement for changing the sex marker on birth certificates. In Victoria, the election commitment from Labor is seeking to "remove barriers to new birth certificates for trans, gender diverse and intersex Victorians". 

"Sex is more complicated than categories of male and female," said Brown, "This decision reflects a growing trend in courts' bi-legislation​ that are starting to recognise gender diversity. It's fantastic to see courts recognise [non binary gender], it means they can be recognised as who they are."


 - Sydney Morning Herald

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