Germany Allowing Parents to Call Intersex Kids 'Gender Undetermined'

Friday, 01 Nov 2013 02:27 PM

By Michael Mullins

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Newborn babies in Germany no longer have to be registered at birth as male or female. The child can now be listed as "undetermined" or "unspecified" on their birth certificate. 

The measure was approved by the German Parliament in January and went into effect on Friday, the Associated Press reported.

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According to 2007 Germany government figures, at least 150 intersex babies are born each year and 8,000-10,000 people have "serious variations" from typical physical characteristics, Reuters reported.

The decision by German lawmakers was reportedly influenced by the advisory group — the German Ethics Council. Some parents with intersex children were forced to commit to surgery for their newborn immediately so the child would conform to one gender.

German parents were previously required by law to register their children's name and gender within one week of birth.

"This is an interesting move but it doesn't go far enough," Silvan Agius, policy director at the Brussels-based rights group Equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people in Europe told Reuters over the summer. "Unnecessary surgeries will likely continue in Germany with devastating consequences... We live in a world where having a baby classified as 'other' is still considered undesirable."

"It's a first, important step in the right direction," Lucie Veith, an intersex person from the northern German city of Hamburg, told AFP. Intersex individuals are people who either possess genitalia belonging to both sexes or have an ambiguous combination of chromosomes.

Veith agreed with Agius' assessment of the new law, adding that the ultimate goal for like-minded intersex activists was "that we forbid cosmetic genital surgeries for newborns, that is our first demand."

In 2011, Australia allowed transgender and intersex people to use an "X" as a gender designation on their passport applications, the BBC reported.

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Related stories:

American Schools Now Dealing With 'Gender Identity Disorder'

Doc Urges: Keep Baby's Gender Secret to Stop Abortions

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