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Transgender Australians win landmark court case

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Summary of story from the Guardian, October 7, 2011

Two transgender people have won an appeal in Australia’s highest court giving them legal recognition as men despite not completing sex-change surgeries.

Transgender and intersex organisations praised the ruling as a precedent that would spare others from having to undergo medically unnecessary surgery to have their chosen gender recognised.

The court ruled that characteristics that identify a person as male or female are “confined to external physical characteristics that are socially recognisable”.

This recognition does not require knowledge of a person’s sexual organs, the court said.

The pair, who have not been named, had their breasts surgically removed and underwent male hormone therapy, but retain some female sex organs.

The Western Australia state Gender Reassignment Board had refused to certify them as male because their sex change surgeries were incomplete.

Aram Hosie, spokesman for the Western Australia Gender Project, said transgender people had previously been unable to legally change their gender “without invasive, medically unnecessary surgeries that may be unwanted, impractical or unattainable”.

Last month, Australia altered its rules to allow transgender people to change the gender on their passports without sex-change surgery (see WVoN story).

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