Tick male or female - where's the other box?
Male, female or do we need a third option?
Many forms asking for personal details have a section with two little boxes; where people are required to specify their gender.
Most of the time there is a choice of 'M' and 'F' - representing male and female - but we may start to see another letter appear as more organisations, departments and businesses start to recognise a third option.
Gay and Lesbian Community Services vice chairperson Dani Wright explained that not everyone identified as being 100 per cent male, or 100 per cent female; instead they are intersex.
"It's a biological difference of sexual development on a chromosomal level or a hormonal level, some have reproductive organs atypical for sexual assignment as a male or female at birth," she said.
Mx* Wright said intersex people represent about 1 or 2 per cent of the population.
Passports and working with children checks are two of the few Australian documents that recognise this third gender.
They give the option of M, F and X, with X representing gender not specified.
Mx Wright said not specifying sex was the favoured option for many intersex people, as in some countries people identified as being of a third sex were systematically segregated and discriminated against.
She said while intersex people had gained recognition on some documents, generally, they were overlooked and they deserved acknowledgment.
Mx Wright said having only male and female as options, was discrimination by omission.
"It makes people feel alienated, invisible and not included," she said.
"The little mental health information available on the subject shows they are worse off from it, they are discriminated against because of not neatly fitting into one of two boxes."
She admitted some intersex people were happy to tick either male or female, whichever gender they most identified with.
Mx Wright said there needed to be more awareness of intersex people.
She said this should start with the medical profession.
Mx Wright said education on intersexuality was not a part of the syllabus for medicine or nursing students.
"Many in the medical profession don't even know what intersex is," she said.
Nominees for candidacy in the state election are some of the few people who have the choice of identifying, on forms at least, as something other than male or female.
The nomination form provides the options of M, F and I - with the I standing for Intersex.
Mx Wright said while the intentions were probably good, the preferred option was an X for sex not specified.
A spokesman for the West Australian Electoral Commission said the intersex nomination category was brought in for the 2005 poll.
"It was initiated because voters were already able to enrol as "male", "female" or "intersex" at the time and the Electoral Commission wanted to standardise the categories across its data," he said.
There have been no intersex candidate nominations since the change.
*Mx is a non gender-specific title pronounced 'Mix'.
Poll: Do we need a third gender option instead of just 'male' or 'female'?
- Yes, the two options are too limited
- No, they are all that's needed
- Only on forms specifically about gender or health
Total votes: 304.
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