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article imageGermany set to allow 'third gender' option on birth certificates

By Lizz Riggs     Aug 17, 2013 in World
German parents will no longer be required to identify their newborn's gender as male or female on their birth certificate.
A new law has recently passed in Germany, which will be effective on November 1, 2013, allowing parents to select the “third gender” option on the birth certificate of their child if the sex cannot be clearly identified at birth.
The recent constitutional court decision states that as long as a person “deeply feels” that they belong to a certain gender, they have a personal right to choose how they legally identify themselves.
Parents of newborn infants will now be allowed to leave the gender form on the child’s birth certificate, allowing the child to decide for themselves when the time is right if necessary.
The new law will apply to hermaphrodites, which are defined as the "condition of having both male and female reproductive organs."
The Intersex Society of North America states "The qualifiers "male" and "female," because they are based only upon the gonadal histology, frequently contradict the sex of assignment, and thus are very misleading and disturbing for parents and patients."
A report in the American Journal of Human Biology says that 1 in every 1,500 to 2,000 babies are born with noticeably atypical genitalia.
Germany is the first European country with this kind of legislation, although Australians have allowed citizens to mark their gender on a passport as X since 2011, RT reports, and that New Zealand allows the same, as of 2012. "Activists in both countries say the legislation has helped curb discrimination against transsexuals and those of indeterminate gender, whether they have had gender reassignment surgery or not."
The amendment suggests that the German government may have to reform all types of gender documentation, including passports, and that the new law may affect marriage laws in the near future as well. Right now, only straight couples can be married in Germany.
Spiegel's reporter Friederike Heine says: "Germany is set to become the first country in Europe to introduce a third, "indeterminate" gender designation on birth certificates. The European Union, which is attempting to coordinate anti-discrimination efforts across member states, is lagging behind on the issue."
While this is the initial step in the European Union's anti-discrimination movement, it's a step in the right direction.
Silvan Agius, policy director at human rights organisation ILGA Europe - the European branch of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, commented on the fact that Brussels commissioned a report on trans and intersex minorities in 2010, but progress in gender discrimination has not advanced much since then.
"Germany's move will put more pressure on Brussels," he said. "That can only be a good thing."
More about Germany, Transgender, Birth certificate, third gender, Gender equality
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