Germany Allows Third Gender On Birth Certificates

Germany will allow parents to pick a third gender on their infant’s birth certificate, as long as the child has ambiguous genitalia. The new law doesn’t require parents to declare a gender for such children. Instead, they can declare gender “undetermined” or “unspecified.”

The law is aimed at taking the pressure off parents who could otherwise make a hasty decision on sex-assignment surgery for newborns. Officials also hope that it will end discrimination against people who are intersex.

About one in every 2,000 children born each year is intersex, reports ABC News. They are part of a group of about 60 conditions that fall under the diagnosis of sexual development disorders.

New York City psychiatrist Dr. Jack Drescher, who specializes in gender identification issues, called the German third gender law “a good thing.” He added:

“Some people have life-endangering conditions that require surgery, but most kids do not. You can make a gender assignment without surgery, and then see how identity develops. The science of knowing how a child will develop any gender identity is not very accurate.”

The third gender option carries beyond birth certificates for German citizens. When the child is old enough for a passport, they will have an option for X instead of the typical M or F, notes CBS News.

Australia and Nepal already allow adults to mark a third gender on their official documents and Norrie May-Welby, an Australian, became the world’s first recognized “genderless” person earlier this year when they won a legal appeal to keep an “unspecified” gender for life.

While some people praised Germany’s decision, while others, including the US website Catholic Online, opposed the law. The organization posted on its website that as “the world is being dragged into a new state, where gender is a choise, but sexual activity is not, we reverse two more pillars of civilization.”

Historically, children born with both male and female parts weren’t called intersex, they were called hermaphrodites, after the Greek god who had dual sexuality. When a child was born with the condition, surgery was usually the first answer for parents and doctors. However, Germany’s third gender law is part of a growing movement to change the way intersex newborns are treated.

[Image via ShutterStock]