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Male? Female? For intersexual individuals that’s an impossible question to answer. Unfortunately few countries recognise people who are neither male or female. Now, Germany is about to become the first European country to give parents a third gender option when registering their babies.
Yesterday’s court ruling has paved the way to strengthen intersex identity in Germany, making the country Europe’s first to recognise a third gender.
The country’s highest court ruled that a third gender must be recognised on birth certificates and other official documents for intersex people.
Vanja, an intersex person registered as a girl at birth, appealed to the court after their request to change their legal sex to ‘divers’ or ‘inter’ was rejected.
A chromosome analysis test proved Vanja is one of the estimated 100,000 Germans whose biology is neither male or female.
Since 2013, German parents have had the option of leaving the gender box blank when registering their children – an option that is widely considered to be discriminatory.
The Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe agreed that registering one’s sex was ‘of paramount importance for individual identity’ and ruled in Vanja’s favour, ordering lawmakers to create a ‘positive’ term that covers intersex people for birth certificates and other official documents by the end of 2018.
International campaign groups have applauded the ‘groundbreaking’ court ruling and hope the decision ignites a worldwide change.
A German government spokesperson has already confirmed that the government respects and will comply with the decision.
Germany will join Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Columbia, Argentina and a handful of US States to recognise a third legal sex on official documents. In Denmark, Ireland, Malta and Norway, adults can self-determine their gender without undergoing a medical examination or chromosome test. In some of these countries, individuals can change the gender on their birth certificate retrospectively.