Germany Adopts Third Gender Identity For Official Identity Documents

German passport on a world map
JohannesS / Shutterstock

From today, January 1, citizens of Germany who are intersex will be able to officially identify as such on their government-issued documents.

As reported by the Daily Mail, people who do not biologically “fit” as either male or female will now have the option to have this indicated on their birth certificates, identity documents, drivers licenses, and passports from the first day of 2019.

Back in August 2018, the government voted on the new legislature, which would allow for a third category of gender, known as “various,” which will hold equal status with male and female. Both chambers of parliament approved the law change. The Bundesrat upper house voted to approve the new law just last month.

The decision last year came after the Federal Constitutional Court called on lawmakers to enact legislation that would either allow people to change their gender or get rid of gender indicated on official documents completely. That was first initiated by an intersex adult appearing on an appeal in court who argued that intersex people should not be forced to choose to identify as either male or female.

Despite the change, LGTBQ campaigners have argued that it is far from enough. The law, despite being progressive, still requires a doctor to sign off on the fact that a person is intersex. As far the LGBTQ community is concerned, this makes it difficult for people to get their gender changed on their documents.

People who are intersex are born with either sexual or reproductive anatomy that does not agree with either typical male or female bodies. This means they are either born with both male and female sex organs, or have both XX and XY chromosomes in their cells.

While some people’s condition is discovered at birth, most only discover that they have characteristics of both males and females when they hit puberty as teens, or even when they start to suffer with fertility issues as adults. Up until now, it has been impossible for them to get their gender identity changed on their official documents.

Germany is not the first country in the world to make the “third gender” an option. Canada, India, Australia, and New Zealand all allow citizens to change their legal documents to reflect that they are intersex, or even non-binary. Austria, and now Germany, still only allow people to recognize that they are intersex on their documents.