A new law took effect in Germany on November 1, which allows parents of newborns to declare their child’s gender “indeterminate.” This third gender option is available to children that are born with both male and female traits and gives that child the option to choose its gender when it is old enough to make that determination. This third category, labeled “intersex” will expand beyond birth certificates in Germany. It is planned to be an option on German passports in the near future.
The law is a result of a German Ethics Council report drafted in 2012 that addressed certain cases where individuals were assigned their gender by their parents, had corrective surgery, and now feel that they would not have made that same decision as an adult. They argued this encroaches upon one’s personal and equal treatment rights. After birth, parents usually scramble to decide a gender for their child for it to be properly registered pursuant to the country’s laws. This decision can end up psychologically affecting the child in later years, especially if it does not agree with their parent’s decision.
While the law makes great headway, the German Interior Ministry feels that it is not enough to fully ameliorate the intricate problems those with gender identity issues deal with on a day-to-day basis. Some critics of the law claim that it needs to go further and address the violations that come with corrective surgeries. The law also strikes curiosity by lawmakers as to what this means for marriage laws in Germany.
Germany may be the first European country to offer this third-sex option, but in Australia, New Zealand, and Bangladesh there are intersex designations on certain documents. Citizens of India and Pakistan also have rights to allow for intersex identification. Do you agree with this third gender option, or do you think it leads to even more confusion for the child? Or does the law not go far enough? Do you think America will eventually follow in Germany’s footsteps?