Germany Third Gender Allowed for Newborn 'Intersex Babies'

Monday, 04 Nov 2013 06:24 AM

By Michael Mullins

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Germany will allow a third gender choice in addition to male and female for parents to register their child at birth if they have an "intersex baby" – also known as hermaphrodites – whose external and internal genitals do not match the same sex.

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

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 physical gender-defining characteristics, Reuters reported.

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The decision by German lawmakers was reportedly influenced by the advisory group – the German Ethics Council, as a means to alleviate pressure apparently experienced by some parents who were in the past forced to commit to surgery immediately after birth so that the child would conform to one gender.

Prior to the implementing the third option, German parents were 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 the AFP.

Veith agreed with Agius' assessment of the new law as far as it not going far enough, adding that the ultimate goal for like-minded intersex activists like herself was "that we forbid cosmetic genital surgeries for newborns, that is our first demand."

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

Related stories:

American Schools Now Dealing With 'Gender Identity Disorder'

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

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