Tony Briffa (politician)

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Tony Briffa
Antoinette Briffa

1970 (age 52–53)
Altona, Victoria, Australia
Known forFirst known intersex and non-binary mayor, LGBTIQ human rights activist, queer person, educator and public speaker.
Television60 Minutes (2000 & 2005)[1]
7.30 Report (2013)[2]”Queerstalia” (2023) [3] Edit this at Wikidata

Tony Briffa (legal and birth name Antoinette Briffa) is a Maltese-Australian[4] politician who is notable for being the world's first known intersex and non-binary mayor and public officeholder.[5]

Briffa has partial androgen insensitivity syndrome,[6] and is mayor of the City of Hobsons Bay, Victoria.[7][8]

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][6][9] Briffa is one of the first people to be public about their experience of being mistreated by doctors as a result of their intersex variation, and about intersex human rights.[2][9][10]

Early life[edit]

Tony Briffa was born in Altona, Victoria with partial androgen insensitivity syndrome. In an article on SBS News, Antoinette explained that she had her first surgeries when she was just a baby and had further procedures including the removal of healthy gonads. She also explains that she was born with a female body including female genitalia.[11]

Speaking to a 2013 Australian Senate 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.e. the removal of her internal testes without her consent):

"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".[12]


Briffa has worked in positions with the Department of Defence and the Australian Federal Police.[13] Briffa is the world's first openly intersex public mayor,[14] and "the first known intersex public office-bearer in the Western world",[15] serving as Deputy Mayor of the City of Hobsons Bay, Victoria, between 2009 and 2011, and Mayor between 2011 and 2012.[14][15][5][16][17] Briffa resigned as a local councillor on 14 February 2014, effective on the appointment of a successor.[18][19] In October 2016, Briffa was re-elected to Hobsons Bay City Council.[7]

Briffa has previously served as the President of the Genetic Support Network of Victoria, Board Member and Secretary of ILGA World, Co-executive director of Intersex Human Rights Australia (formerly OII Australia)[20] and long term President of Intersex Peer Support Australia (formerly the Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome Support Group Australia;.[21] Briffa was also a Foster Carer of several children, a member of numerous Victorian Government Ministerial Advisory Committees since 2001, a current member of the Victorian Government LGBTIQ Taskforce. She is also the Co-chair of the Victorian Government's Intersex Expert Advisory Group.[22]

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • Briffa, Tony (8 September 2014). "Proud intersex person Tony Briffa tells story of self discovery". News Corp Australia. Archived from the original on 30 December 2014. Retrieved 30 December 2014.
  • Briffa, Tony (15 May 2014). "Tony Briffa speaks at the Darwin Outgames Human Rights Forum". Archived from the original on 16 July 2014.
  • 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.[9]

Personal life[edit]

Birth certificate[edit]

Tony Briffa's original and current birth certificate recognises her sex as female, but she had previously obtained a birth certificate with a blank sex classification.[6][10][23][24] Speaking to the Senate hearing on intersex sterilisation in March 2013, Briffa said:[10]

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."[16] On their 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.”[25]


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.[26][27] Intersex Human Rights Australia notes:[24][28]

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[edit]


  1. ^ "60 Minutes". Nine Network. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  2. ^ a b c "Living outside 'male or female'". Australian Broadcasting Corporation 7.30 Report. 8 July 2013.
  3. ^ "Senate voting changes explained in AEC advertisements". 26 April 2016. Retrieved 9 August 2018.
  4. ^ Calleja, Claudia (16 February 2015). "'Healthy hermaphrodite' is both man and woman". Times of Malta. Malta.
  5. ^ a b "Tony Briffa Of Australia's City Of Hobsons Bay Becomes World's First Intersex Mayor". The Huffington Post. 10 December 2011.
  6. ^ a b c "About Tony". 2012.
  7. ^ a b "Hobsons Bay City Council election results 2016". Victorian Electoral Commission. 29 October 2016.
  8. ^ "Councillor Tony Briffa JP, Cherry Lake Ward". Retrieved 16 February 2021.
  9. ^ a b c "Animation: NICHE IDAHO Campaign: "I", Tony (YourStory) Video animation". NICHE.
  10. ^ a b c 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
  11. ^ "The 'I' in LGBTIQ+: What it's like to be intersex in Australia". 25 February 2023.
  12. ^ "Involuntary or coerced sterilisation of intersex people in Australia". Australian Senate Community Affairs Committee. October 2013.
  13. ^ "Tony Briffa". Archived from the original on 26 May 2019. Retrieved 28 June 2021.
  14. ^ a b "Intersex Mayor Elected in Australia". 9 December 2011.
  15. ^ a b "Briffa to march in mayoral robes". Star Observer. 8 December 2011.
  16. ^ a b "World's first intersex mayor, Cr Tony Briffa does not want to be called he or she". Herald Sun. 15 April 2013.
  17. ^ "Melbourne elects Australia's first intersex Mayor". 9 December 2011. Archived from the original on 10 November 2013.
  18. ^ "Intersex ex-mayor of Hobsons Bay Tony Briffa calls it quits". Herald Sun. 14 February 2014.
  19. ^ "Resignation Announcement". Cr Tony Briffa. 14 February 2014.
  20. ^ Carpenter, Morgan (4 March 2018). "We are now "Intersex Human Rights Australia"". Intersex Human Rights Australia. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  21. ^ "Our Board". Intersex Human Rights Australia. 12 October 2013.
  22. ^ "LGBTIQ+ Taskforce". Government of Victoria. 6 March 2023.
  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. ^ a b c "Congratulations, Tony and Manja!". Organisation Intersex International Australia. 27 September 2013.
  25. ^ "Tony Briffa Of Australia's City Of Hobsons Bay Becomes World's First Intersex Mayor". Huffington Post. 10 December 2011. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  26. ^ "Tony and Manja's little Kiwi wedding". 8 October 2013.
  27. ^ "OII VP Tony Briffa to Wed Partner in NZ Ceremony". Gay News Network. 27 September 2013. Archived from the original on 3 January 2017.
  28. ^ Briffa, Tony (16 August 2014). "Tony and Manja Briffa speak at marriage equality rally in Melbourne, 16 August 2014". Melbourne. Archived from the original on 19 September 2014.

External links[edit]