Norrie loses appeal for sex “not specified” in Administrative Decisions Tribunal

Norrie, a Scottish-Australian trans person of no specified sex, has lost their appeal for the right to sex “not specified” at the Administrative Decisions Tribunal.Administrative Decisions Tribunal, New South Wales: Norrie v Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages (GD) (2011) NSWADTAP 53 - click to read this judgement.

Decision:

1. The appellant’s application for leave for the appeal to extend to the merits of the Tribunal’s decision is refused.
2. The Tribunal’s decision is affirmed.

Catchwords:

APPEAL – appeal on question of law – meaning of “change of sex” in Births Deaths and Marriages Registration Act -whether sex can be changed from “male” to “not specified” or whether sex can only be changed from “male” to “female” or from “female” to “male”

Legislation Cited:
  • Administrative Decisions Tribunal Act 1997
  • Births Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1995
  • Interpretation Act 1987

REASONS FOR DECISION

Introduction
  1. Norrie, who was born a male, underwent a surgical procedure involving the alteration of her reproductive organs. She then applied to the Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages to register her change of sex from “male” to “not specified”. The reason for that request was that Norrie does not identify as either male or female. We use the personal pronouns “she” and “her” with her permission. We also refer to her by her single preferred name, Norrie (or the appellant).
  2. The Registrar has power to register a person’s change of sex or to refuse to register the person’s change of sex: Births Deaths and Marriages Registration Act ( BDMR Act ) 1995, s 32DC(1). The Registrar refused Norrie’s application saying that he did not have power to register a person’s change of sex to “not specified”. The only two options were registering a change of sex from male to female or from female to male. Norrie applied to the Tribunal for a review of that decision: Administrative Decisions Tribunal Act 1997 ( ADT Act ): s 55. The Tribunal affirmed the Registrar’s decision: ADT Act , s 63. Norrie has appealed to the Appeal Panel on a question of law: ADT Act , 113(2)(a). We have found no error of law in the Tribunal’s decision.
  3. After this matter was heard, the High Court handed down a decision in AB v State of Western Australia [2011] HCA 42. That case concerned the meaning of the words “gender characteristics” in s 15(1)(b) (ii) of the Gender Reassignment Act 2000 (WA). With the knowledge of the parties, we read that judgment before writing this decision. Nothing in that judgment was directly relevant to an issue in dispute in these proceedings.

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