Germany will become the first country in Europe to join a small group of nations which recognize a third or “undetermined” sex when registering births, according to a report in the Süddeutsche Zeitung.
From 1 November, babies born in Germany without clear gender-determining physical characteristics will be able to be registered without a sex on their birth certificates, according to the report.
The change is being seen as the country’s first legal acknowledgment that it is possible for a human to be neither male nor female – which could have far-reaching consequences in many legal areas.
While transsexuals – people born of one gender who feel they belong to the other and wish to be recognized as such – are already legally recognized in Germany, hermaphrodites – those with both male and female genitalia – have always been forcibly registered as one or other sex at birth.
The German decision to recognize a third gender was based on a recommendation by the constitutional court, which sees legal recognition of a person’s experienced and “lived” gender as a personal human right.
People of “undetermined” sex will be allowed at any point throughout their lives to identify themselves as one or other sex and register the change on their birth certificates. Alternatively, they may also choose to keep their gender undefined.
While lawyers have rejected the idea that legislators intended to create a third legal gender with the law change, some are arguing that in practice, anyone registered as “undetermined sex” will in future have to be given their own separate de facto status in legal matters.
To learn more about intersexuality, check out Intersex Society Of North American