Two trans men from Australia had their right to identity as men without completing gender change surgery affirmed by the country’s High Court on Thursday.
The pair, names not disclosed, were denied certification of their gender change by the Western Australia state Gender Reassignment Board because while they both have undergone surgery to remove their breasts they have not undergone complete genital surgery.
However the pair challenged that decision in court and, in a precedent-setting ruling, the High Court returned a decision in their favor.
Transgender and intersex organizations praised the High Court’s ruling as a precedent that would spare others from having to undergo medically unnecessary surgery to have their chosen gender recognized.
The court ruled that characteristics that identify a person as male or female are “confined to external physical characteristics that are socially recognizable.” This recognition does not require knowledge of a person’s sexual organs, the court said.
Trans rights groups in Australia have welcomed the decision as a humanizing step forward in the treatment of trans citizens.
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’s administration recently announced that it will be changing passports to add a category “x” to the current male and female gender markers for those who feel they do not fit the gender binary. You can read more on that here.