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gender neutral

rubikscube's picture

When searching for contemporary examples of gender diversity, I came across an article about Norrie May-Welby, the first person in the world to officially have a non-specified gender.

May-Welby, who was born a man, had a sex change operation to become a woman at age 28 in Australia. Though apparently after this surgery, May-Welby did not feel comfortable as a woman and decided to be defined as gender neutral (or should I say decided to not be defined as any gender?). In January of 2010, May-Welby went to court in Sydney so that "zie" would be allowed to not specify a gender on important documents like a birth certificate and a passport. "Hir" doctors stated that zie is neither male nor female, physically or psychologically. May-Welby has no sex organs, and hir hormones are not the same as a male's or female's hormones. May-Welby's reasoning for this allowance of a non-specified gender seems to protect hir from the reaction of others about hir gender (or lack thereof). Zie gives the example of hir passport. If the passport specified a certain gender, then zie would be at risk of getting detained for not having the characteristics or physical appearance of either a male or female.

In January of 2010, the New South Wales government declared May-Welby to be neither a man nor a woman. This decision made Australia the first country in the world to recognize this non-specified gender. However, in March of 2010, the New South Wales Registry of Births, Deaths, and Marriages took away this option for May-Welby so that zie could no longer have "not specified" for gender on hir official documents. May-Welby filed a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission, though from what I read, no changes have been made as of now.

 I consider myself to be a fairly open-minded person, but reading about May-Welby really made me think about what it means to be transgendered. To me, this is an example of someone who felt the need to match their gender with their sex, but ultimately decided that could not be done successfully. I think we put too strong of a correlation between sex and gender, though for some people, those traits don't quite line up. Is it possible that a biological male with a feminine gender wouldn't want a sex change operation if we didn't force the belief that male = masculine and female = feminine? Maybe if we change the way we think about gender in relation to sex, people would be able to exist happily on a spectrum of gender without feeling the need to surgically change their bodies.



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