Norrie May-Welby

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Other namesNorrie May-Welby, stylized as norrie mAy-Welby[1]
Known forLegal action to recognise non-specific gender

Norrie,[3] also known by the pseudonym Norrie May-Welby,[a] is a Scottish-Australian transgender person who pursued the legal status of being neither a man nor a woman, between 2010 and 2014.[4][5][6][7] The High Court of Australia ruled in April 2014 that it was in the power of the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages to record in the register that the sex of Norrie was 'non-specific'.


Norrie was born in Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland. Norrie moved to Perth, Western Australia[8] at the age of seven. Norrie underwent sex reassignment surgery on 3 April 1989,[8] but later found that being a woman was not what they felt like either.[4][5][9] Norrie describes their gender as androgynous.[10]

Norrie moved to Sydney, New South Wales in the early 1990s, after a highly publicised court case in Perth.[11] Doctors stated in January 2010 that Norrie was a neuter, with a self-image that was neither male nor female, and no sex organs.[1] Norrie publicly uses gender-neutral third-person pronouns, such as singular they, but does not object to being referred to by feminine pronouns "as long as there are no imposed assumptions about reproductive biology coming along with them".[12]

In 2019, Norrie published the autobiographical book Ultrasex (Beyond Division).[13]

NSW Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages v Norrie[edit]

The New South Wales Government Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages initially recognized Norrie as being neither male nor female, with a registered details certificate stating "not specified" in 2010. However, the Registry rescinded its decision in a formal letter of cancellation on 17 March 2010. In response, Norrie filed a complaint with the Australian Human Rights Commission and to the Court of Appeal.[14] The Court of Appeal ruled in favour of Norrie, but the Registrar appealed to the High Court. In April 2014, the High Court ruled that it was within the Registrar's power to record in the register that the sex of Norrie was 'not specific'. The Court found that sex affirmation "surgery did not resolve her [sic] sexual ambiguity".[15] Regarding the four-year battle, Norrie stated, "It was swings and roundabouts, but I'm on Wikipedia now".[16]

Australian Marriage Act[edit]

Norrie was featured on the first episode of Hatch, Match & Dispatch, where Norrie was seeking to obtain a marriage licence. Norrie could not do so due to being legally genderless, and the Australian marriage law at the time stated that marriage was defined as being between a man and a woman. Norrie planned to protest this to the UN.[17][18] Though Norrie declined to do so, Norrie was told that they would be able to get married if they agreed to change their legal gender to "female".[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Stylised as norrie mAy-Welby


  1. ^ a b "Sex not specified: Australia leads the way with legal document", The Scavenger. 8 March 2010
  2. ^ Groom, Nelson (7 April 2014). "An Interview with Australia's First Recognized Agender - VICE". Vice. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  3. ^ Hohnen, Mike (17 June 2019). "Watch this short doco on LGBQT activist/Newtown Icon/Creator of bubbles, Norrie". The Brag. Retrieved 18 July 2020.
  4. ^ a b "No sex for me, please! Ex-transsexual Australian Norrie May-Welby is first legally genderless person" Archived 22 March 2010 at the Wayback Machine, New York Daily News. 16 March 2010.
  5. ^ a b "Briton is recognised as world's first officially genderless person", The Telegraph. 15 Mar 2010.
  6. ^ "Norrie May-Welby: The World's First Legally Genderless Person", The Huffington Post. 18 March 2010.
  7. ^ "Norrie May-Welby's battle to regain status as the world's first legally genderless person", Daily Life Australia. 8 November 2013
  8. ^ a b "Norrie, Senza Sesso ('Norrie, Without Sex')". 18 March 2010. Archived from the original on 21 October 2013. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  9. ^ "Gender Bender laps up zer attention!", Paisley Daily Express. 18 March 2010.
  10. ^ Baird, Julia (6 April 2014). "Opinion | Neither Female Nor Male". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  11. ^ 'Audience Show and Tell' - Archived 29 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine ABC1 Enough Rope, 11 August 2003
  12. ^ Wolfgramme, Katherine (20 March 2019). "'You will live through heaven and hell, but you will live': non-binary advocate Norrie". Star Observer. Retrieved 26 December 2020.
  13. ^ Ultrasex (Beyond Division), ISBN 978-1-68957-331-3
  14. ^ "Norrie backflip 'a breach of rights'" - Sydney Star Observer
  15. ^ NSW Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages v Norrie, 2014 High Court of Australia 11, 11 (High Court of Australia 2 April 2014).
  16. ^ Davidson, Helen (2 April 2014). "Third gender must be recognised by NSW after Norrie wins legal battle". Retrieved 2 April 2014.
  17. ^ "Norrie's Battle to Get Married Despite Being Neither Man Nor Woman". 11 February 2016. Retrieved 13 January 2017.
  18. ^ Hatch, Match & Dispatch, episode 1
  19. ^ Reynolds, Emma (2 November 2016). "Norrie's battle to get married despite being neither man nor woman". NewsComAu. Retrieved 4 October 2017.


  • O'Keefe, Tracie and Fox, Katrina (eds.) (2003) Finding the Real Me: true tales of sex and gender diversity San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. ISBN 0787965472

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