As The Huffington Post reports, the German legislature voted to amend the Civil Status act with a new law saying that children who are born of an indeterminate gender no longer have to check “male” or “female.”
The law seeks to protect babies from gender-assignment surgery, which has been the standard treatment for babies born without distinguishing genitalia. Parents can leave the space blank and let the child eventually choose whether to identify as male, female, or neither.
Some worry that “outing” of babies as intersex on official records could lead to discrimination in schools. And yet, the third option seems necessary. As the Chistian Science Monitor notes, “a 2012 report from the Ethics Council quoted the case of an individual born in 1965 with no clear gender-defining genitalia but with testicles in their abdomen and male chromosomes. At the age of 2.5 months the individual was castrated without parental consent, a move which doctors later called a mistake.”
“I’m not a man, nor a woman … I remain a patchwork, made from doctors, injured and scarred. I have to reinvent myself if I want to continue to live,” the individual said.
Germany isn’t the only country dealing with “third gender” issues. Nepal began issuing “third gender” citizenship certificates earlier this year, and Sweden is lightyears ahead of the game by creating the word “hen” as a third gender pronoun. The term was recently added to the Swedish National Encyclopedia as an alternative to masculine “han” or feminine “hon.” Australia has allowed citizens to note their gender on a passport as “X” since 2011.
I’m all for anything that makes the lives of people born with this particular set of challenges as easy as possible. In fact, I’m not a fan of the term transgender. We need to follow Sweden’s lead and create snazzy words that mean third gender and transgender. Let people be what they’re born as instead of forcing them into a box. They can later choose how they want to live their lives when they’re old enough to realize what’s what.
Germany will become the first European country to recognize indeterminate sex. The new law takes effect November 1st.
Do you think having a third gender option on birth certificates is a good idea? Why or why not?
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