Germany is the first country to allow for a third gender to be declared on birth certificates. If a baby is born intersex, that is expressing ambiguous sex characteristics, “undetermined” or “unspecified” can be legally registered as the sex on the birth certificate. The law, passed in May, goes into effect on November 1.
The law addresses the 1 in 5,000 in Europe identify as intersex, a condition described in a 2011 report to the European Commission as people “differ[ent] from trans [sexual or gender] people as their status is not gender related but instead relates to their biological makeup (genetic, hormonal and physical features) which is neither exclusively male nor exclusively female, but is typical of both at once or not clearly defined as either.”
The legal definition may reduce stigma and discrimination for intersex people in medical care, and may reduce the chances that parents will opt to have their infants’ genitalia “corrected”; the surgical alternation often causes severe psychological trauma in adulthood. Many intersex adults are deeply opposed to the surgery performed on them as children and oppose surgical alteration before intersex people reach an age at which they can understand their gender identity.