Journal Article

<i>Re Kevin</i> and the Right of Transsexual Persons to Marry in Australia

James McConvill and Eithne Mills

in International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family

Volume 17, issue 3, pages 251-274
Published in print October 2003 | ISSN: 1360-9939
Published online October 2003 | e-ISSN: 1464-3707 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/lawfam/17.3.251
Re Kevin and the Right of Transsexual Persons to Marry in Australia

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This article considers the decision of the Family Court of Australia in Re Kevin (Validity of Marriage of a Transsexual) [2001] FamCA 1074, which was upheld by the Full Court of the Family Court of Australia in February 2003. Re Kevin was the first case in Australia to deal directly with the question of whether a transsexual person could marry under Australian law. In the past, Australia had adhered to the judgement of Ormrod J in Corbett v Corbett [1971] P. 83, which set the benchmark for what is ‘male’ and what is ‘female’ under the common law. Prior to Re Kevin the question of what is a man and what is a woman for the purposes of marriage in Australia mirrored the strict biological test established in Corbett. In other words, the Australian courts relied upon biological factors, as espoused by Ormrod J, when determining a person's true sex. In Re Kevin, Chisholm J examined in detail what it is to be a man or woman, but unlike Ormrod J considered ‘brain sex’ to have a significant impact on a person's view of their own innate sexual identity. The Full Court of the Family Court agreed with the powerful and well‐reasoned judgement of Chisholm J at first instance.

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Subjects: Family Law ; Marriage and the Family

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