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France Recognizes a Third Gender

France Recognizes a Third Gender

Photo via WikiCommons/Daniel Vorndran

The decision by a French court could set an important legal EU precedent. 

A French court has ruled that a 64-year-old intersex person is entitled to use the term "gender neutral" on all legal documents. It's the first time that a European court has made such a decision, and such a legal precedent could compel wider recognition of a third gender throughout France and the European Union.

Previously, Germany was the only European country to recognize a third gender, a move that came about in 2013 through the legislature. There are only seven other countries in the world with similar laws: Australia, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, and Thailand. In 2013, the Council of Europe adopted a stance opposing sex "normalizing" procedures, whereby surgery is performed on intesex children (about 1.7% of the population) at birth in order to bring them into alignment with the gender binary.

The plaintiff, who is married and has an adopted child, was assigned male at birth and has carried that label throughout life. However, the court's decision, as reported by The Independent, called that gender "pure fiction," adding:

"It was imposed upon him for his entire existence without him ever being able to express his deepest feelings."

"The birth certificate of Monsieur X, which for the past 65 years has attributed to him a masculine gender, should be rectified and now include a 'neutral status.'"

State prosecutors have filed an appeal, saying that the court's decision equated to de facto national recognition of a third gender.

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