CANBERRA, Australia -- Two transgender people won an appeal in Australia's highest court Thursday giving them legal recognition as men despite not having had complete sex change surgeries.
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.
The pair, who have not been named, had their breasts surgically removed and underwent male hormone therapy, but retain some female sex organs.
The Western Australia state Gender Reassignment Board had refused to certify them as male because their sex change surgeries were incomplete.
Aram Hosie, spokesman for the W.A. Gender Project, said transgender people had previously been unable to legally change their gender "without invasive, medically unnecessary surgeries that may be unwanted, impractical or unattainable."
A Gender Agenda spokesman, Peter Hyndal, said the judgment was in line with South Africa, Britain and some other European countries that have relaxed surgical prerequisites for legally changing gender.
Last month, Australia altered its rules to allow transgender people to change the gender on their passports without sex change surgery.