Tony Briffa (politician)

Tony Briffa (born Antoinette Briffa in Altona, Victoria) is an Australian-Maltese[3] person who has Partial Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome.[4] Briffa is an independent councillor, and former mayor and deputy mayor in the City of Hobsons Bay, Victoria.[5][6] Briffa is considered the world's first openly intersex mayor and public office-bearer.[7][8][9][10][11][12]

Tony Briffa
Antoinette Briffa

1969 (age 4950)
Altona, Victoria, Australia
ResidenceAltona, Victoria, Australia
Known forFirst known intersex mayor, intersex activist and educator
Television60 Minutes (2005)[1]
7.30 Report (2013)[2]

Briffa was raised as a girl, then lived for a time as a man, and now chooses to live as both female and male.[2][4][13] Briffa is one of the first people to be public about a chosen blank, indeterminate, birth certificate.[2][13][14]

Early life

Tony Briffa was born with Partial Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, raised as a girl and castrated at age seven to impose that assigned sex of rearing. Speaking to a 2013 Senate of Australia inquiry into the Involuntary or coerced sterilisation of intersex people in Australia, Briffa describes how doctors "convinced my mother to approve me to be castrated":

"I have a few pages here from my medical records...It says: 'Mother now ready for gonadectomy.' ... The histology reports, which I will also tender, show that they were healthy testes. But there was no Family Court approval. If we are talking about coercion, doctors coerce families, parents, into believing by saying: 'We need to remove these testes because it will make your child normal'... Of course, part of the whole sterilisation thing is that you have pretty big surgery and scars, so they are making you different! ... [and surgery is] usually over the summer holidays, so your summers are spent in hospital".[15]


Biffa has worked in positions with the Department of Defence and the Australian Federal Police.[16] Tony Briffa is the world's first openly intersex public mayor,[7] and "the first known intersex public office-bearer in the Western world",[8] serving as Deputy Mayor of the City of Hobsons Bay, Victoria, between 2009 and 2011, and Mayor between 2011–2012.[7][8][9][10][11][12] Briffa resigned as a local councillor on 14 February 2014, effective on the appointment of a successor.[17][18] In October 2016, Briffa was re-elected to Hobsons Bay City Council.[5]

Tony Briffa has previously served as the President of the Genetic Support Network of Victoria. Briffa is now co-executive director of Intersex Human Rights Australia (formerly OII Australia)[19] and vice-president of the Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome Support Group Australia;[20] described as "the two leading groups advocating for the rights of intersex people in Australia".[21]

Selected bibliography

  • Briffa, Tony (8 September 2014). "Proud intersex person Tony Briffa tells story of self discovery". News Corp Australia.
  • Briffa, Tony (15 May 2014). "Tony Briffa speaks at the Darwin Outgames Human Rights Forum". Darwin. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • Briffa, Tony (8 May 2014), Tony Briffa writes on "Disorders of Sex Development"
  • Briffa, Tony (15 April 2004). "Intersex surgery disregards children's human rights". Nature. 428 (6984): 695. Bibcode:2004Natur.428Q.695B. doi:10.1038/428695a. PMID 15085107.
  • Parts of Briffa's life story are depicted in a short online animation.[13]

Personal life

Birth certificate

Norrie May-Welby is popularly regarded as the first person with an indeterminate birth certificate, and "non-specific" sex was awarded by the High Court of Australia in April 2014 on the basis of May-Welby's failed sex affirmation surgery.[22] However, Tony Briffa had previously obtained a birth certificate with a blank sex classification.[4][14][23][24] Alex MacFarlane is believed to be the first.[25][26][27][28][29] Speaking to the Senate hearing on intersex sterilisation in March 2013, Briffa said:[14]

My birth certificate, from the state of Victoria, does not classify me as male or female. I have certainly had a female birth certificate, I had a male birth certificate at one stage and I have a blank birth certificate now. But we are hoping that one day in the future our birth certificates will actually be able to reflect, for those who want it, the way nature made us. If people feel female that is great, and if they feel male that is great, but there are also people like me: I just accept the way nature made me. I am happy for my birth certificate to say that I am both male and female. One day, hopefully, we will have that as well.


Briffa made the following statement: "I am very public about being born biologically partially female and partially male and that I was raised as a girl and lived as a woman until I was 30. I ask all my friends and colleagues to respect my sex as what nature made me; both female and male."[10] On his website Briffa posted:

“I feel very comfortable having accepted my true nature. I am not male or female, but both. I am grateful for the years I lived as a woman and the insight and experiences it gave me. I am still ‘Antoinette’ and have now also incorporated and accepted my male (‘Anthony’ or ‘Tony’) side. I feel whole. I’ll continue to live as Tony but I feel I am now at a point in my life where I can celebrate being different.”[30]

He also added that now that he has come to accept the male part of himself, he is now using male pronouns however continue to identify as neither male or female.[30]


Legal issues presented by Tony Briffa's non-specific birth certificate meant that Briffa could not lawfully marry in Australia until late 2017. On 27 September 2013, Tony Briffa married Manja Sommeling in Dunedin, New Zealand.[31][32] Intersex Human Rights Australia notes:[24][33]

Tony was born in Victoria with Partial Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (PAIS), one of many intersex variations, and Tony's birth certificate does not state a sex. Marriage in Australia is currently only permissible between a man and a woman, and Tony is not eligible.

Tony is able to marry in New Zealand because legislation providing marriage equality was passed earlier this year. Tony has had to declare an "indeterminate" gender for the purposes of today's marriage.[24]

See also


  1. "60 Minutes". Nine Network. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  2. "Living outside 'male or female'". Australian Broadcasting Corporation 7.30 Report. 8 July 2013.
  3. Calleja, Claudia (16 February 2015). "'Healthy hermaphrodite' is both man and woman". Times of Malta. Malta.
  4. "About Tony". 2012.
  5. "Hobsons Bay City Council election results 2016". Victorian Electoral Commission. 29 October 2016.
  6. "Councillor Tony Briffa JP, Cherry Lake Ward". Retrieved 14 February 2014.
  7. "Intersex Mayor Elected in Australia". 9 December 2011.
  8. "Briffa to march in mayoral robes". Star Observer. 8 December 2011.
  9. "Tony Briffa Of Australia's City Of Hobsons Bay Becomes World's First Intersex Mayor". The Huffington Post. 10 December 2011.
  10. "World's first intersex mayor, Cr Tony Briffa does not want to be called he or she". Herald Sun. 15 April 2013.
  11. "Melbourne elects Australia's first intersex Mayor". 9 December 2011. Archived from the original on 10 November 2013.
  12. "Australia elects world's first intersex mayor". The Raw Story. 10 December 2011.
  13. "Animation: NICHE IDAHO Campaign: "I", Tony (YourStory) Video animation". NICHE.
  14. Senate of Australia; Community Affairs References Committee (28 March 2013), Involuntary or coerced sterilisation of people with disabilities in Australia: Thursday 28 March 2013, Canberra
  15. "Involuntary or coerced sterilisation of intersex people in Australia". Australian Senate Community Affairs Committee. October 2013.
  17. "Intersex ex-mayor of Hobsons Bay Tony Briffa calls it quits". Herald Sun. 14 February 2014.
  18. "Resignation Announcement". Cr Tony Briffa. 14 February 2014.
  19. Carpenter, Morgan (4 March 2018). "We are now "Intersex Human Rights Australia"". Intersex Human Rights Australia. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  20. "Our Board". Intersex Human Rights Australia. 12 October 2013.
  21. "3rd Asia Pacific Outgames Human Rights Forum – Keynote Speakers". Outgames.
  22. NSW Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages v Norrie, 2014 HCA 11, 11 (High Court of Australia 2 April 2014).
  23. "OII VP Tony Briffa to wed partner in NZ ceremony – Gay News Network". Gay News Network. 27 September 2013. Archived from the original on 3 January 2017.
  24. "Congratulations, Tony and Manja!". Organisation Intersex International Australia. 27 September 2013.
  25. "X marks the spot for intersex Alex" (PDF). West Australian. 11 January 2003.
  26. Holme, Ingrid (2008). "Hearing People's Own Stories". Science as Culture. 17 (3): 341–344. doi:10.1080/09505430802280784.
  27. "Neither man nor woman". Sydney Morning Herald. 27 June 2010.
  28. "Newsletter of the Sociology of Sexualities Section of the American Sociological Association" (PDF). American Sociological Association Sexualities News. 6 (1). Summer 2003.
  29. "Ten years of 'X' passports, and no protection from discrimination". Organisation Intersex International Australia. 19 January 2013.
  30. "Tony Briffa Of Australia's City Of Hobsons Bay Becomes World's First Intersex Mayor". Huffington Post. 10 December 2011. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  31. "Tony and Manja's little Kiwi wedding". 8 October 2013.
  32. "OII VP Tony Briffa to Wed Partner in NZ Ceremony". Gay News Network. 27 September 2013. Archived from the original on 3 January 2017.
  33. Briffa, Tony (16 August 2014). "Tony and Manja Briffa speak at marriage equality rally in Melbourne, 16 August 2014". Melbourne. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
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