M, F or Blank: 'Third Gender' Official in Germany from November

By Friederike Heine

A legislative change taking effect in Germany this November allows parents to opt out of determining their baby's gender. The law is the first of its kind in Europe. Zoom
DPA

A legislative change taking effect in Germany this November allows parents to opt out of determining their baby's gender. The law is the first of its kind in Europe.

Germany is set to become the first country in Europe to introduce a third, "indeterminate" gender designation on birth certificates. The European Union, which is attempting to coordinate anti-discrimination efforts across member states, is lagging behind on the issue.

The option of selecting "blank," in addition to the standard choices of "male" or female" on birth certificates will become available in Germany from November 1. The legislative change allows parents to opt out of determining their baby's gender, thereby allowing those born with characteristics of both sexes to choose whether to become male or female in later life. Under the new law, individuals can also opt to remain outside the gender binary altogether.

Germany is the first country in Europe to introduce this option -- Munich-based newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung is referring to the change as a "legal revolution." It remains unclear, however, how the change will affect gender assignment in other personal documents, such as passports, which still require people to choose between two categories -- "F" for female and "M" for male. German family law publication FamRZ has called for the introduction of a third category, designated by the letter "X."

The law was passed back in May, but has only now been reported on, following an article this month in FamRZ -- just six weeks after Australia became the first country in the world to introduce legal guidelines on gender recognition. Under the Australian system, which applies to all personal documents, individuals can select the third category irrespective of whether or not they have undergone sex reassignment surgery or hormone therapy.

Brussels Under Pressure

Finland is the only EU member state aside from Germany to have made significant progress in the area of third gender recognition. Despite its efforts, bureaucratic hurdles in the Nordic country have meant that there is still no concrete legislative change in sight.

According to Silvan Agius, policy director at human rights organisation ILGA Europe -- the European chapter of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association -- the European Union is lagging behind on the issue. Though Brussels commissioned a report on trans and intersex minorities in 2010, and has since attempted to coordinate efforts to prohibit gender discrimination, progress has been halting.

"Things are moving slower than they should at the European level," says Agius. "Though Brussels has ramped up efforts to promote awareness of trans and intersex discrimination, I would like to see things speed up."

The subsequent EU report on potential changes to European Union law, which was published in 2012 and co-authored by Agius, found that discrimination against trans and intersex people was still "rampant in all EU countries."

"Germany's move will put more pressure on Brussels," Agius concludes. "That can only be a good thing."

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1. optional
peskyvera 08/16/2013
How about not asking people about their religion.
2. 3 Gender?!?
Gazmend Ceno 08/16/2013
"Germany's move will put more pressure on Brussels," Agius concludes. "That can only be a good thing." Well, how in the world can that be a good thing for people? Can anybody please explain the subconscious effect such “rights” will have on a young person filling out that application? Let’s not forget the dangerous example that Germany is setting for the rest of EU here.
3. A quote from John Adams
High Hat 08/17/2013
"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. . . . Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." I think this quote is as true today as when first written in 1776. John Adams helped write the US Constitution and was the second president of the US. I believe he fully realized what he was saying. When any democratic country wishes to become "enlightened" it is sowing the seeds for it's own downfall. We have had standards of morality for several thousand years. For some reason people think they can ignore them now at their discretion. I can't understand their thinking.
4. Big Picture
71horton 08/18/2013
So civilization has been missing something up till now? Genuine sensitivity cannot be contrived. This is not an advancement of humanity, more like a dog chasing its tail. True respect for self and others comes from within.
5. Germany's Third Gender
Thorgood 08/18/2013
Theologically, homosexuality is contrary to the Bible resulting in the gay community embracing atheism as it conflicts with their hedonistic lifestyle. Scriptural condemnation begins in Genesis with the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and continues through Revelation. However, consider His grace reflected in I Corinthians 6::9 “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals,10 thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Some of you once lived this way. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” Rejecting His grace, we just become another Godless nation. More compelling verses: Leviticus 18:22 “Do not practice homosexuality; it is a detestable sin.” And for raising children: Luke 17:2 “It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.” While homosexuals seem rather intelligent, they create their own unnatural values, and fail to realize that no amount favorable legislation will provide a destiny better than that of the Sodomites and Benjaminites. Then again, history often shows that we don't learn from our mistakes, much less from the gay diatribe to follow.
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