March 04, 2014

The Right To Be Gender Neutral

When I was an early twentysomething living in inner-city Sydney in the 90s, cautiously venturing out of the closet, the sight of androgynous Norrie May-Welby striding through the streets, wearing a rainbow coloured top hat and tails would fill me with dread. Here was someone who was Queer with all the ambiguity and complexity that entailed. To be honest, I was terrified of being identified as someone like Norrie. How could someone be so maverick and parade their divergent identity? So much easier to go with the herd. With a ways to go before claiming my own gender identity I found it extremely uncomfortable to have real diversity in my face. Decades later I understand a little better how fear and prejudice shapes us and how regimented gender identity is no accident.

And I still run into Norrie around my neighborhood. Still agitating. Still getting up people’s noses. Still rocking the closets, but now internationally recognised as a human rights pioneer.

Today Norrie is at the High Court of Australia as the NSW Government attempts to overturn per historic win last year in the NSW Court of Appeals to be recognised as neither male or female. The NSW Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages is fighting to preserve the status quo and make no mistake - they know that a loss today will seriously undermine the traditional fixation on classifying all of society under the binary gender system. I doubt it will open the document revision floodgates as they fear, but a ruling in Norrie’s favour will certainly encourage other marginalised people to claim their own identities.

For a government to invest so much in pursuit of suppressing the visibility of sex and gender diversity speaks volumes. Regardless of today’s outcome, I want to acknowledge a true pioneer and wish per good fortune in this historic case. As quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald last year, “It’s not good enough if the law is just for the majority of people”

Go Norrie!

Posted by .M. at March 4, 2014 05:28 AM | TrackBack


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