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Australia is first to recognise ‘non-specified’ gender

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  1. So is zie able to marry anyone regardless of their gender or no-one?

  2. While I’m happy for Zie, I worry it could be used to deny transsexuals a gender altogether.

  3. theotherone 11 Mar 2010, 7:22pm

    but, abi, what of people who do not want a Gender or who, to take a different argument from Zie, do not want to identify with in a Male/ Female Poler Opposition?

  4. I totally understand what your saying theotherone. But its the way how the state can use this to deny a gender to those that want it that worries me.

  5. Fred, that’s an interesting comment, I’d like to see the end result of that. My gut feeling is they probably would not let her marry, but I could be wrong. Australia isn’t yet known for anything that progressive. I think the UK would probably not allow it either. None of us can marry our partners either unless we go to another country and even then, its not recognised as a marriage once we return. I guess we’re not so far removed from Australia.

  6. Pumpkin Pie 11 Mar 2010, 10:41pm

    I’m glad this worked out for hir, and I hope other intersexed people get similar recognition.

    Reminds me of that article a few months back on how intersexed children in this country were still being arbitrarily castrated at birth. All despite decades (at least half a century) of extremely harrowing case studies on how badly this affects them.

  7. Reverend Loveshade 11 Mar 2010, 10:45pm

    My “family” (The Loveshade Family) has been against gender discrimination for decades. The first thing people want to know when a baby is born? Is it a boy or a girl. That way they can start forcing gender identity from birth.

    We use “e” as a genderless substitute for “he” or “she.” “Es” serves for his/her as an adjective, “em” for “him/her” as a pronoun, and “emself” for “himself/herself.” For example, “E went to the store to buy a pineapple for emself and es family.”

  8. Um, not really a “first”. On 12 November 2009 CNN reported that Indian election authorities had granted what they called an independent identity to intersex and transsexuals in the country’s voter lists ( and on 23 December 2009 Reuters UK reported that Pakistan’s Supreme Court ordered authorities to allow transvestites and eunuchs to identify themselves as a distinct gender as part of a move to ensure their rights (

  9. The beginning of the end of discrimination against trans people. Having talked with some of them, I’ve learned how deeply they are affected by the gender non-conformity or confusion, including suicide attempts, They too deserve our love and respect. Just last week I had lunch with 4 trans people. besides myself, the only other person was a transpersons daughter. That this now woman had fathered in the past. And suffered so greatly from the “mind of a woman, body of a man”. Other then that she is 6 ft tall, and has a somewhat man/somewhat woman voice, I’d say she is actually hot. BTW, I’m a str8, married 42 years to the same woman, man

    The other beautiful thing of this Australian recognition of gender identity issues is that the pope will hopefully have a heart attack.

    He was the utter ChurchFuhrer in Dec of 08, when he said that “gender therory, by minimizing the difference between male and female, would lead to the end of mankind”

    Obviously he has a new inquisition in mind. But what else would you expect for a guy whose real name begins RATZI, (pronounce it) and was born and brought up in Nazi Germany.

    BTw, his brother Georg is now implicated in sex scandals in Germany re kids

  10. Katrina Fox 12 Mar 2010, 2:47am

    @David: Having a ‘distinct’ or separate identity or third sex/gender is not the same as having ‘sex not specified’, so it’s a ‘first’ on this count. Read Norrie’s story in the first person about hir journey to androgyny and this document at:

  11. Very interesting… but i’m not sure that ‘zie’ and ‘hir’ will catch on – language evolves naturally and it’s very hard to manufacture changes like this

  12. When I used to be politically incorrect – (lol) – I used to refer to “he”, “she” and “it”, or say “We have three kids, one of each.”

    OK, so it’s rather bad taste, but by the same token you cannot force ordinary people to take on an entirely new gender, it’s just NOT going to work. If you personally want to consider yourself something different from the norm, that is entirely up to you, but you can’t expect everyone else to.
    Conformity within society only goes so far.

  13. theotherone 12 Mar 2010, 1:15pm

    ‘ you cannot force ordinary people to take on an entirely new gender’

    oh fvck off RobN, you’re an idiot.

  14. RobN: It’s not an entirely new gender. Do you really think that people haven’t been identifying as something outside the binary for thousands of years? Sex isn’t a binary, gender isn’t a binary, sooner or later people are just going to have to GET OVER IT.

    The irony is that my friend’s two year old nephew can understand that my friend isn’t a boy or a girl yet this seems to be beyond most adults. Why? Because of socialisation. People can learn to deal with new concepts, they just normally don’t want to.

  15. Fabulous! This is enlightened legislation and enlightened journalism, telling it as it is with understanding and respect.


  16. theotherone 12 Mar 2010, 2:14pm

    xyl: socalisation, hate and fear.

  17. My understanding is that people who are Intersex can have an “I” on their documents for the past few years.
    Reading the end of the story leads me to worry about people with transsexualism that corrected their genitals to match their core gender, now will also be pushed into this category.

  18. theotherone 12 Mar 2010, 5:43pm

    one would hope no one is forced into doing anything however not all ‘Transesuals’ (you need to adopt that title to get surgery) have a ‘core gender’ if that is defined as male or female.

  19. theotherone 12 Mar 2010, 6:12pm

    I feel I have to ‘come out’ regarding this story.

    I do not identify as a Transexual and ‘female’ is one one of the identities I would ascribe to and then only with a touch of irony.

    For me to adopt a Transexual identity would be for me to betray my own more complex sets of identities as well as to betray my Political and Philosophical beliefs.

    Even on this site I find myself having to simplify my Identity/ Identities and I find my heart sinking when I read the responses to this story.

    Yes we must be careful that people who really do feel themselves to belong to one Gender or the other should have their Identity protected but…well the comments here seem to point towards a certain disapproval of Identities which belong to the realm of The Other, identities which do not fit into conventional ideas of Gender.

    In our rush to build defensive walls around our community/ communities we run the risk of excluding those who belong with us so you have the superiority of Gay Man to every other group and the almost Neo-Platonic order of greater and lesser beings. The ‘Trans’ Community is no less guilt of this than any other group and I fear I can see that here.

  20. Theotherone: However you wish to view it, put it, shape it, be identified by etc etc – Everyone has a core gender defined by their genes. Male or Female. That NEVER changes.

  21. T.W.Johnson 12 Mar 2010, 6:16pm

    It’s very human to want to cram everything into distinct little boxes and then give each box a name, e.g., “male”/”female.” As we become more sophisticated we create new boxes for things that are difficult to cram into an existing box, e.g., “intersex.” Given the nature of language, which requires category nouns, we will never be able to “name” all of the possibilities, but we are finally beginning to realize that there is far more real diversity than our naming system allows for. norrie’s case is an important step in the right direction. My hope for a next step would be as one medical insurance company does now, asking separately for “what sex were you assigned at birth?” and “what gender are you now?” Each is an open box with no predetermined choices. Most will write an “M” or an “F” in the first box and the same thing in the second. Some will finally be able to express their true selves, outside the pigeonholes.

  22. theotherone 12 Mar 2010, 7:35pm

    ‘Some will finally be able to express their true selves, outside the pigeonholes.’

    We can but hope…

    As to you RobN: there’s not enough space here to discuss ‘Sex’ either as a Scientific entity or in relation to Critical Theory so I’d suggest reading up on it. A good place to start would be the book ‘Sexing the Body’ as it provides an easy introduction to Gender Theory and a discussion of the lack of Scientific evidence for distinct Sex’ or Gender.

  23. OrtharRrith 12 Mar 2010, 7:57pm

    @RobN: Are we now to turn on a minority within a minority simply because you don’t understand it? You don’t understand transsexualism so you attack that, you don’t understand that not everyone feels that they belong to one gender or another so you attack that. Can I assune you are gay? Would it then be right to assume that you don’t understand heterosexuals? Do you attack them too?
    You don’t have to understand something to show support. We’re all raised to believe there are two genders – clearly you understand that. Yet here are people telling you that it’s not as simple as that. You can’t comprehend why they feel that way but you don’t need to attack them because of it.

    This is a good thing, and I applaud Australia for being the first to take this step.

    I don’t know where Australia stands on correcting birth certificates for transsexuals, but at least here in the UK I can’t see the government putting those who are trans into this catagory unless they ask to be there (assuming the UK government actually does this)

  24. OrtharRrith: Who said I am “turning” on anyone?
    I have no problem with how people wish to be identified. However, I do think there is a problem with other people being able to recognise that fact. I have enough trouble on here unintentionally pissing people off because I called them one thing or another, and I am trying to be diplomatic. I call a ‘he’ a ‘she’, or a ‘she’ a ‘he’ or some other catastrophic faux pas.

    I’m sorry, but this is all just bullsh!t. It’s about time people just got on with their lives and stopped worry about what other people thought of them.

  25. theotherone 12 Mar 2010, 10:04pm

    it’s about time you shut up you boring old Arse Bandit.

    Hope you don’t mind being called that RobN or how about an Uphill Skier, a Shirt Lifter, a Fvck1ng Pervert, Gay Boy, Fvck1ng Poof…

    hey man don’t get offended ‘this is all just bullsh!t. It’s about time people just got on with their lives and stopped worry about what other people thought of them.’

    What a monumental amount of time you must spend engaging in pleasuring yourself.

  26. Also, I would like to point out that Norrie is gorgeous.
    The End

  27. theotherone 12 Mar 2010, 11:02pm

    not unattractive no.

  28. “Everyone has a core gender defined by their genes. Male or Female. That NEVER changes.” – RobN

    So RobN you think of humanity in the terms of XY-female, XX-male.

    I guess people who are born with the following sex chromosomes are not human then as they have the wrong genes?

    XX Congenital adrenal hyperplasia
    XX Progestin-induced virilisation
    XX Freemartinism

    XY Androgen insensitivity syndrome
    XY 5-alpha-reductase deficiency
    XY Congenital adrenal hyperplasia
    XY Persistent Müllerian duct syndrome

    XO Turner syndrome

    XXX Triple X syndrome

    XXY Klinefelter syndrome

    XYY XYY syndrome

    XX male

    XY female

    There are many other individuals who do not follow the typical patterns (such as individuals with four or even more sex chromosomes).

  29. I can well see why some of the commenters on here see the possible downside of this development in respect of trans women. As a trans woman myself, i was well aware of that issue when i wrote the piece.

    To be honest, the real issue seems to be that for some transexuals, being gender free would be liberating, whilst for others it would be a threat. Speaking personally, i have grown up and lived most of my life with a male body, and an inner spirit that is as close to female as one can be in such a situation.

    Now i am living far more in tune with how I am and, from a societal point of view, that entails my being more female. However, i wasn’t male – or exactly female – before. And i am not sure i will feel exactly female after. We will see. Despite all of the above, i know i will be me – and as my transition progresses, increasingly happy to be so.

    Personally, therefore, i can identify with norrie’s choice…whilst accepting it is not for all.

    The solution, therefore, seems to be something around self-determination. Those who are trans and identify with a specific gender should be recognised as such. Those who are trans and identify as gender-free should equally be respected.

    In either case, the principle is the same: no imposition of gender roles from external pressure.


  30. I can’t help but notice that Norrie is still conforming to a gender stereotype–all prettied up as a woman with makeup, hairstyle, dress, etc.

  31. Kristy: How is that conforming to a stereotype? What is the ‘stereotype’ for neuter gendered people. It is you who seem to be rushing into stereotypes. Dressing feminine doesn’t necessarily mean one is ‘presenting female’. If for example, a MAN wants to dress feminine it doesn’t mean he ‘prettied up as a woman’, what clothes you put on don’t dictate your gender. Perhaps he wants to present as a feminine man. Perhaps Norrie chooses to present as a feminine neuter gendered person. I wish we could move past this into an age where people can where what the hell they like without people making daft presumptions about the persons identified gender because of it.

    I’m a neutrois and I tend to dress pretty butch, that doesn’t mean I am presenting ‘as a man’, just as someone who likes more masculine clothes.

  32. xyl: Then what does it mean to be “feminine” or “masculine?” If you want people to move on, then we all ought to quit using the terms feminine and masculine as well. I personally hate cosmetics, accessories (my “purse” is a wallet), high heels, etc. I drool after those cool men’s pants (like the cargo ones) and hate the silly options for women’s shoes. Why does it take cosmetics and dresses to be “feminine?” But with the way Norrie was dressed, it looks like Norrie was using the stereotype of a gender opposite of what Norrie grew up with.

    Also, define “butch” in terms of fashion. Regarding my likes and dislikes in fashion, I am most certainly still not a butch but still fully a woman.

    Then again, that picture I see is just one picture. Maybe Norrie dresses up differently everyday. It’s clear Norrie was attending some event, so Norrie was in the mood to use that particular outfit.

    And, I am not rushing into stereotypes. I would rather get rid of them.

  33. ‘Then what does it mean to be “feminine” or “masculine?”‘

    Well indeed Kristy, those terms have problems all of their own. To push all of human behaviour into a one dimensional spectrum between masculine and feminine is very narrowing. I feel such terms have to be used carefully, it’s dangerous to assume because somebody does one thing often labelled feminine that they’re likely to do other things often labelled feminine or likely to not do other things labelled masculine. I think the worst thing though is to conflate feminine with female and masculine with male, that is to reinforce traditional gender stereotypes.

    “But with the way Norrie was dressed, it looks like Norrie was using the stereotype of a gender opposite of what Norrie grew up with.”

    Maybe, but zie could be doing that for any number of reasons. It may be some kind of statement, or it may just be that those are the clothes Norrie feels comfortable in for any number of reasons. We’d have to ask Norrie to know!

    “Then again, that picture I see is just one picture. Maybe Norrie dresses up differently everyday. It’s clear Norrie was attending some event, so Norrie was in the mood to use that particular outfit.”

    Very true.

  34. Silly old RobN writes “Theotherone: However you wish to view it, put it, shape it, be identified by etc etc – Everyone has a core gender defined by their genes. Male or Female. That NEVER changes. ” – it doesn’t matter how loudly he shouts it the fact is his assertion is shown to be false by the experience of countless millions of people – but he’ll go on shouting out his ignorance and frustration like the naughty little boy he so desperately identifies as.

  35. theotherone: “it’s about time you shut up you boring old Arse Bandit.”

    I was referring to “official” terms of identification, not derogatory ones, you haggard old dyke.

  36. When you use “it” as a description of a trans,intersexed or gender queer person it is a derogatory term RobN!

  37. theotherone 13 Mar 2010, 3:49pm

    I’m sorry RobN but you do use derogatory terms.

    As to Kirsty: I find your rather sneering tone problematic. Would you then dress people? Tell them what they can and can’t wear?

    If we’re talking clothes I wear make-up, flat soled shoes, suits, shirts and ties. Would that make me ‘Masculine’ or ‘Feminine?’ You say you view these definitions as problematic but at the same time jump to a definition of how one person dresses.

  38. Norrie says, “I wonder if we in Western culture would have more options for happiness if we too had permission not simply to be of one gender or the other, but also to be of both genders, if such was our nature.”

    This reminds me of the First Peoples’ (of Western Canada, at least) concept of ‘two-spiritedness.’ Imagine the possibility to simply be… wholly, authentically and unconditionally who we are; to be human. Seems simple, but is so complicated.

    Of course, this is not to say that ‘spiritedness’ need be limited to two spirits, or that it have any specific spirits at all. We may have been socialized to categorize and organize, but it is not necessarily comfortable for everyone. Nor should it have to be. While we may never agree on what it means to be human, each person deserves and is entitled to their own valid and valuable perspective; we all have the right to respect, dignity and recognition, to our own experience of humanness. Maybe idealistic, but then wouldn’t such an aim be worthwhile? I dream of a world free from oppression, and full of story.

    I applaud Norrie’s courage to be, and also Australia’s baby step towards recognition.

    Indeed, as Rainer Maria Rilke so eloquently wrote, “once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue, a wonderful living side by side can grow, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole against the sky.”

  39. @Katrina Fox — March 12, 2010 … thanks however lets celebrate the breakthroughs in India, Pakistan and Australia rather than get hooked on semantics.

    Also, the Australian the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade was forced to drop its policy prohibiting transgender people from obtaining a passport in their lived-sex to travel abroad for gender re-assignment surgery, changing the words from ‘transgender’ to ‘sex and gender diverse’, see: Apology forces trans law change 08 November 2009

  40. David-Sarah Hopwood 14 Mar 2010, 4:26am

    This is great! I’m very pleased for Norrie, and inspired to try to do the same thing in the U.K.

    About wearing “stereotypical” female clothes: why on earth not? To me, at least, being bi-gender implies not being limited in how you can express yourself based on gender — and that includes not being restricted from things just because they might be viewed as stereotypical. For instance, I always wear female clothes, but that doesn’t stop me from being part-male (as well as female) in other respects.

    The answer to Fred’s question (first comment above) is unclear because for Australia has no formal same-sex marriage or civil union law — see . For New South Wales in particular, see . (Since Norrie has a gender recognition certificate with “female” on it, that’s presumably sufficient for hir to marry someone legally recognized as male, though.)

    Incidentally, Norrie’s website is at

  41. David-Sarah Hopwood 14 Mar 2010, 4:52am

    Minor mistake in the article: “Zie (a gender-specific pronoun)” should probably be “Zie (a non-gender-specific pronoun)”.

    (Personally I use “they”, but zie is fine too. To answer the comment about it being “very hard to manufacture changes” in natural language, on the contrary, that happens all the time, by conscious activism or otherwise. Language change happens slowly, but that’s no reason to be dismissive of it.)

  42. Chase Cameron 15 Mar 2010, 9:28am

    As a 46 year old transgender male, I think I appreciate where norrie is coming from (pardon mispellings and typos, it’s 4:30 a.m. here in Ontario, Canada). I was uncomfortable as a female. Been on male hormones for a year and a half, pass male, my health card and cheque come in MALE and MISTER..and there’s a part that feels female. i think there really is a non-gender gender. There’s a confusing sentence.
    Having a non-specific gender marking is not the end of the world, of civilisation, or the family. It’s evolution and it isn’t as if everyone is going to to line up for it on their ID.
    Way to go Norrie, and kudos to Australia for time and again doing the right thing.

    Chase Cameron
    Hamilton, ON Canada

  43. how nice! though i must point that the headline of the piece itself is inaccurate. a few months back the election commission of the central government of india, for instance, announced that the electoral role, the register of citizens of the nation – would recognise three genders – male, female and ‘other’. x

  44. Thanks for the post, Abi1975. Saves me looking up the information I was going to use to correct RobN! (Alas, I don’t think he really seems capable of comprehending more than a GCSE level of biology.)

  45. theotherone 16 Mar 2010, 1:06pm

    GCSE? That’s far to advanced for RobN

  46. theotherone: “GCSE? That’s far to advanced for RobN”
    Maybe, but at least I know the English language sufficiently well to know when to use “too”, not “to”. ;)

  47. *sigh*
    People should react to the article in their comments, not to other people’s comments. It’s not a forum!

  48. This is one thing that makes me proud of the Finnish language. We don’t have different words for he and she. We use same word for everyone =D

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