‘Third Gender’ Option On German Birth Certificates Will Allow Parents Of Intersex Children To Leave Sex Blank

By Philip Ross on August 17, 2013 3:32 PM EDT

third gender
Germany will become the first European state to allow a “third gender” option on birth certificates. (Photo: Flickr/kthread)

A "third gender" option will appear on German birth certificates later this year. The law will allow parents to leave their child's sex blank if the newborn's gender is not clear at birth. It's meant to accommodate children with both male and female characteristics.

Germany's "third gender" law, which will make it so parents won't have to designate "male" or "female" on a child's birth certificate, will go into effect Nov. 1. Opposing Views reports that the law is the result of an amendment to the country's Civil Status law and is meant to accommodate intersexual children.

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The amendment came after a court decided that if a person "deeply feels" she belongs to a particular gender, she should be able to choose that identity for herself.

Intersexual children, known traditionally as hermaphrodites, are born with variations in their chromosomes, genitals and/or gonads that don't allow them to be identified simply as male or female.

According to a report in the American Journal of Human Biology, 1 in every 1,500 to 2,000 babies is born with noticeably atypical genitalia.

But because intersex kids are born with both female and male genitals, it's impossible to know which gender the child will identify with as he or she grows gets older.

"The qualifiers 'male' and 'female,' because they
are based only upon the gonadal histology, frequently contradict the sex
of assignment, and thus are very misleading and disturbing for parents and
patients," notes the Intersex Society of North America.

Germany isn't the first nation to allow third gender identity on government documents. RT reports that in 2011, Australia made it legal to mark "X" under "gender" on passports. New Zealand did the same a year later.

Not everyone, however, is a fan of Germany's "third gender" law. Critics of the amendment say that the government will have to reform all types of gender documentation, including passports.

They also say the new law will affect marriage laws. As of now, only straight couples can be married in Germany.

Read more from iScience Times:

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