Two transgender men in Australia have won the right to be legally recognised as men without undergoing sex reassignment surgery.

The pair, who have not been named, have had their breasts removed and some hormone therapy, although they still have some female sexual organs.

The Western Australia state Gender Reassignment Board refused to recognise them as male and said their sex reassignments were incomplete.

After an appeal, Australia’s highest court ruled that they must be recognised as men.

The landmark ruling said that characteristics that identify people as male or female are “confined to external physical characteristics that are socially recognisable”, rather than their genitals.

Aram Hosie of the Western Australia Gender Project said that the ruling would help prevent discrimination and harassment of trans people.

“Previously transsexual people in Western Australia, as in other parts of the country, have been unable to legally amend their sex without invasive, medically unnecessary surgeries that may be unwanted, impractical or unattainable,” Hosie told the Star Observer.

“This has resulted in difficulties in proving one’s identity on essential documentation, a loss of privacy, and the risk of exposure to discrimination, harassment and sometimes even violence.”

Australia recently announced rule changes to give intersex people the right to list themselves as ‘X’, rather than male or female, on passports.

Many transgender people do not undergo full sex reassignment surgery, for reasons of choice, health or cost. The UK does not require individuals to have surgery in order to gain a gender recognition certificate.