Since October 1st, 2018, Germany has become the first country to issue birth certificates with a third sex. (www.independent.co.uk) Specifically, children born without a clear sexual identity can now be registered without a gender specification, and parents can leave blank the section regarding the child’s sexual identity in the birth certificate.
The new German law entered into force on November 1st, for the first time in a European country, based on a decision of the Constitutional Court. It states that as long as a person “feels deeply” that he or she belongs to a particular sex, he or she has the right to choose how to legally identify.
The measure is meant to alleviate the pressure exerted on the parents, in the situation of urgently deciding controversial surgeries, to assign a newborn sex, when it presents a constitutive sexual ambiguity. (www.nhs.uk)
“It is the first time the law recognizes that there are people who are neither male nor female, or both sexes – people who do not fall into the traditional legal categories,“ explains a law professor at the University of Bremen.
Parents will be allowed to leave the birth certificate blank where they should specify the sex of the child if he/she is born with unusual physical characteristics, which make it impossible to determine the sex.
At the age of maturity, the respective children will be able to decide with what gender they identify. Thus, in the registers of marital status in Germany a new term has appeared – “indeterminate sex”.
In addition, German passports that apply for “M” for men or “F” for women will soon contain “X” in the field reserved for the sexual determination of the individual, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry in Berlin announced.
The law leaves a lot of uncertainty
The new law is already stirring much debate and even controversy in conservative religious circles. Some believe that it will apply to hermaphrodites – who possess organs specific to both sexes – than to transsexuals.
But once the law comes into force, those who choose not to have sex will face a lot of bureaucratic problems while traveling abroad, as adult passports specify the sex of the possessor, precisely to avoid possible confusions.
So despite the application of these regulations from November 1st, the new law leaves many more questions unanswered. First of all, many wonder what it will mean for a person to live without a legally established sexual identity in a world largely built on male-female binary logic.
Germany is the first European country to implement such legislation. Australians have allowed citizens to mark the “X” in the passport where the sex must be specified, and New Zealand followed suit last year. Human rights activists in both countries say the legislation has helped combat transgender and indeterminate sex. (www.escorta.com)
Earlier this year, Nepal also started issuing “third sex” birth certificates, and Sweden has a more special method to combat discrimination: the invention of the neutral pronoun “hen”, which replaces “he” and ” she”.