Tags: third | gender | option | german

Third Gender Option on German Birth Certificates Offered

Friday, 23 Aug 2013 07:06 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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Starting in November parents can use a third gender option for German children born "without physical gender-defining characteristics," becoming the first European country to do so.

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.

"A key aim of the new rule is to relieve parents of the pressure of having to decide a sex straight after the child's birth, and thereby agreeing overly hastily to medical procedures to settle the child's sex," said a German Interior Ministry spokesman.

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Some gay rights supporters, though, said the Germany's third gender option rule should be viewed as first step in the recognition of intersex individuals.

"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. "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."

The Huffington Post reported that Nepal began issuing third gender citizenship certificates earlier this year. Nepal's Supreme Court agreed in 2007 that the government should issue the new citizenship certificates but it took five years to implement the decision, according to The Associated Press.

Sunilbabu Pant of the Blue Diamond Society told the AP in January that simple and clear guidelines for issuing the certificates should make life easier for sexual minorities in Nepal.

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The BBC reported in 2011 that Australia approved a third choice when describing their gender on passport applications. The move allows transgender and intersex people to use an "X" as a gender designation.

Australian senator Louise Pratt, whose partner was born female and is now identified as a man, told the BBC in 2011 the reform helped resolve confusion in other countries.

"There have been very many cases of people being detained at airports by immigration in foreign countries simply because their passports don't reflect what they look like," said Pratt.

Related stories:

Parents Sue Over Adopted Child's 'Sexual Assignment' Surgery

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