Germany becomes first country in Europe to give 'third sex' option for babies of 'indeterminate' gender

Parents of the children will now be able to register their child's sex as "undetermined" or "unspecified" on the birth certificate

Berlin

Germany became the first country in Europe on Friday to give parents the option of a third  "indeterminate" gender description for their newborn on birth certificates in addition to standard choices of male or female in a move hailed as a "legal revolution."

The option of  gender: “blank” is an attempt to enable children born with characteristics of both sexes to decide whether they want to be considered male or female in later life.

But the new law also stipulates that individuals can opt to remain “blank” for the whole of their lives  and stay outside the gender binary altogether. “This is the first time that the law acknowledges that there are human beings who are neither male nor female or are both,” said Konstanze Plett, a Bremen University law professor on Friday.

German passports, which currently list the holder’s sex as M for male of W for female (Weiblich) will have a third designation, X for so-called “intersex” people - individuals with a mixture of male and female chromosomes. The Süddeutsche Zetiung newspaper said the change in the law amounted to a “ legal revolution”.

The law is an attempt to remove the difficulty faced by parents with newborn children of indeterminate gender who are often under pressure to submit their offspring to surgery which places them in a recognised male or female gender category. As many as one in every 2,000 people are estimated to have characteristics of both sexes.

In one case, a person with no clear gender-defining genitalia who was subjected to gender-defining surgery complained years later: “I am neither a man or a woman. I remain the patchwork created by doctors, bruised and scarred.”

Despite Germany’s decision to change the law, the European chapter on International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Trans and Intersex Association said the European Union was lagging behind on the issue.

“This is an interesting move but it doesn’t go far enough,” said Silvan Agius,  the organisation’s policy director, on Friday. “ Unnecessary surgeries will likely continue in Germany with devastating consequences because being classified as “other” is still considered undesirable,” he added.

He said that European Union reports had shown that discrimination against such groups was “ still rampant in all EU countries” and that it was important for society to “open up” to the notion of people of indeterminate gender.

Germany just failed to become the first country in the world to introduce an indeterminate gender category. The title has been claimed by Australia which introduced legal guidelines on gender recognition in July this year

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power