Sabine Brix revisits the people and events in the transgender community that captured our attention in 2014.

LANDMARK CASE RECOGNISES THIRD CATEGORY OF NON-SPECIFIC GENDER

In a landmark Australian ruling in April, the High Court recognised a third category of non-specific gender of sex that granted a Sydney resident the right to identify as neither male or female.

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Above: Norrie wins High Court battle, winning the right be to be recognised as gender ‘non’ specific

Norrie May Welby initially applied to have gender status removed and replaced with ‘non’ specific, however after being approved the request was later revoked, suggesting it was beyond the scope of the law. Norrie went to the NSW Court of Appeal and the decision was overturned, the panel declaring that “the word sex does not bear a binary meaning of ‘male or female’”. The implications of this case are far-reaching throughout the transgender and gender queer community, breaking stigmas and allowing for more gender options than just the binary.

TRANSGENDER MODEL COMES OUT IN A BID TO HELP OTHERS

A prominent fixture on the international modeling circuit, Australian-born Andreja Pejic came out as a transgender woman in July in a bid to encourage others to be themselves and break free from the shackles of gender binary.

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Above, Andreja Pejic comes out as transgender

Pejic was renowned for her androgynous chic, and featured in campaigns for Jean-Paul Gaultier and Marc Jacobs in addition to wearing clothes for female designers. She came out as transgender in a candid interview with Style.com, changing her name from Andrej to Andreja and outlining the challenges she faced during adolescence concerning her sexual identity.

Months later she launched a campaign to fund a film which documented her transition in a bid to “build a bridge between my community and the rest of the world”.

AUSTRALIA HOSTS ITS LARGEST TRANSGENDER HEALTH CONFERENCE

In October, ANZPATH – the Australia New Zealand Professional Association for Transgender Health – hosted Australia’s largest and most comprehensive transgender health conference in Adelaide. The three-day event combined clinical experts with over 20 trans-identified speakers from around the world to present a series of panel discussions. Its aims were to promote excellence in clinical service, strengthen ties of the gender diverse community and enhance relationships between the community and its service providers. A working group was established during the conference to establish Australia’s first national representative body for trans and gender diverse people.

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Above: Delegates gather at the transgender health summit ANZPATH in Adelaide

LAVERNE COX MAKES HISTORY

It was a huge year for transgender actress and activist Laverne Cox, who received a number of accolades which saw her recognised as an important trailblazer within the transgender community.
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Above: Laverne Cox became the first transgender woman to appear on Time Magazine cover

In May, Cox became the first transgender woman to grace the cover of Time magazine in an interview which offered a deeply personal and insightful view into her life and struggles with gender conformity. In June she became the first openly transgender person to be nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in Orange is the New Black. Cox has become a well-respected icon and spokesperson for transgender people in advocating for their rights.

SENSATIONALIST REPORTING OVER MAYANG PRASETYO’S DEATH

Brisbane tabloid the Courier Mail’s sensationalist and insensitive reporting of transgender murder victim Mayang Prasetyo in September caused widespread disgust across the LGBTI and straight communities. The newspaper ran the stigmatising headline ‘Monster Chef and the She Male’ and drew unnecessary attention to Prasetyo’s gender identity and her occupation as a sex worker in the body of the article. The Courier Mail’s actions caused community backlash and a multitude of complaints to the Press Council. Over 28,000 signatures were collected, resulting in an eventual apology from the newspaper.

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