Norrie May-Welby

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Norrie May-Welby
Norrie May-Welby.jpg
Born (1961-05-23) 23 May 1961 (age 57)
ResidenceErskineville, New South Wales, Australia
Other namesnorrie mAy-Welby[1] [sic]
Known forLegal action to recognise non-specific gender

Norrie May-Welby (born Bruce Norrie Watson, 23 May 1961[2]), is a Scottish-Australian transgender person who pursued the legal status of being neither a man nor a woman, between 2010 and 2014.[3][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 May-Welby was 'non-specific'.

At least two other Australians – both born intersex and including Alex MacFarlane – are known to have birth certificates and/or passports showing an indeterminate or unspecified sex as early as 2003.[8][9][10]


May-Welby was born in Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland and was assigned male at birth. May-Welby moved to Perth, Western Australia[11] at the age of seven. May-Welby underwent male-to-female "reassignment" surgery on 3 April 1989,[11] but later found that being a woman was not what May-Welby felt like either.[4][5][12]

May-Welby moved to Sydney, New South Wales in the early 1990s, after a highly publicised court case in Perth.[13] Doctors stated, in January 2010, that May-Welby was a neuter, with a self-image that was neither male nor female, and no sex organs.[1]

Norrie prefers the term androgynous and does not mind being referred to as she or her but also likes the pronouns "xie" and "hir."[14]

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

The New South Wales Government Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages initially recognized May-Welby 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 However, the Registry rescinded its decision in a formal letter of cancellation on 17 March 2010.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, May-Welby filed a complaint with the Australian Human Rights Commission and to the Court of Appeal.[15] The Court of Appeal ruled in favour of May-Welby 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 May-Welby was 'not specific'. The Court found that sex affirmation "surgery did not resolve her [sic] sexual ambiguity".[16] In commenting on the four-year battle, May-Welby stated "It was swings and roundabouts, but I'm on Wikipedia now".[17]

Australian Marriage Act[edit]

May-Welby and their partner were featured on the first episode of Hatch, Match & Dispatch where they were seeking to obtain a marriage license. They could not legally do so because May-Welby is genderless, and the Australian marriage law at the time stated that marriage is between a man and a woman. May-Welby planned to protest this to the UN.[18][19] Though they declined, May-Welby was told that they would be able to get married if they agreed to change their application to say "female".[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Sex not specified: Australia leads the way with legal document", The Scavenger. 8 March 2010
  2. ^ Scholfield, Sy (31 October 2010). "norrie mAy-welby: Astrology chart". Horoscope Profile. Norrie May-Welby: 11.01am on 23rd May 1961 at Paisley. At least, that's what the minute part of the time appeared to be to me [on the birth record].
  3. ^ "I'm not a man... or a woman". Scottish Sun. 15 March 2010. Retrieved 15 March 2010.
  4. ^ a b "No sex for me, please! Ex-transsexual Australian Norrie May-Welby is first legally genderless person", 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. ^ "X marks the spot for intersex Alex", The West Australian, via 11 January 2003
  9. ^ Holme, Ingrid (2008). "Hearing People's Own Stories". Science as Culture. 17: 341–344. doi:10.1080/09505430802280784.
  10. ^ "OII VP Tony Briffa to wed partner in NZ ceremony - Gay News Network" Archived 10 November 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Gay News Network, 27 September 2013
  11. ^ a b "Norrie, Senza Sesso' ('Norrie, Without Sex')" Archived 22 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Leggo Online. 18 Marzo 2010.
  12. ^ "Gender Bender laps up zer attention!", Paisley Daily Express. 18 March 2010.
  13. ^ 'Audience Show and Tell' - Archived 29 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine ABC1 Enough Rope, 11 August 2003
  14. ^ Baird, Julia (2014-04-06). "Opinion | Neither Female Nor Male". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-10-04.
  15. ^ "Norrie backflip 'a breach of rights'" - Sydney Star Observer
  16. ^ NSW Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages v Norrie, 2014 High Court of Australia 11, 11 (High Court of Australia 2 April 2014).
  17. ^ Davidson, Helen (2 April 2014). "Third gender must be recognised by NSW after Norrie wins legal battle". Retrieved 2 April 2014.
  18. ^ "Norries Battle to Get Married Despite Being Neither Man Nor Woman". Retrieved 2017-01-13.
  19. ^ Hatch, Match & Dispatch, episode 1
  20. ^ Reynolds, Emma (2016-11-02). "Norrie's battle to get married despite being neither man nor woman". NewsComAu. Retrieved 2017-10-04.


  • 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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