No Pressure To Decide Intersex Child’s Gender Right After Birth: Germany’s Revolutionary Third Gender Law

Posted on August 26, 2013 in GlobeScope, Society

By Maitri Sisodia:

Germany has become the first European nation to join the Gender Neutral movement having introduced the new law that allows a third gender differentiation on the birth-certificates. Germany has been criticized in the past for its stance on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues. An amendment was voted on 7th May to the Civil Status Act by German legislature. Germany has proved itself to be more progressive than others by taking a lead in the Gender Neutral movement in the European subcontinent. November onward, German parents will have the options — male, female and “indeterminate” when filling the birth certificate forms for the newborns. This means that the parents of children born with special conditions, which result into the baby having indeterminate gender, will no longer face the ordeal of assigning a gender to the baby. “A key aim of the new rule is to relieve parents of the pressure of having to decide a sex straight after the child’s birth, and thereby agreeing overly hastily to medical procedures to settle the child’s sex,” said a spokesman for the German Interior Ministry.

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Statistics show that 1 out of every 2000 children born each year is neither a girl nor a boy. They are born with a group of 60 conditions that fall under the disorders of sexual development (DSD). The individuals with these conditions are termed as intersex which is because their gender cannot be clearly classified. Earlier the parents who did not have a third gender option, would have to decide the gender and raise the intersex baby as per that gender. The revolutionary third gender law that shall be put to practice from November, ensures the freedom of choosing a way of life for the individual.

Finland, Australia and Nepal are the countries that have already been allowing a third gender on the birth certificates. Australia and Nepal allow adults a male, female or a “third gender” option on all official documents. Germany has yet not disclosed as to how it will deal with the third gender option on other official documents.

Silvan Agius of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association said about the new law by Germany, that it was an interesting move but not far enough. There have been many cases in which the intersex individual not only faces negative discrimination but also has to become a patchwork of surgeries in the process of trying to fit in the society. Nevertheless, Germany has definitely come forward in this movement by passing this law. It should come as a reassurance to the intersex community that societal boundaries shall be moulded and they shall be equally recognized as the other genders rather than being left lingering in attempts to fit in.

It will be interesting to see if this development in Germany is followed by ripples in other nations following this practice. Asian countries seem to be lagging far behind in the movement of identifying a third gender, maybe this should be seen as a bugle for change.

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