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Germany’s Top Court Recognizes Third Gender
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Summary: Germany will recognize intersex individuals on government documents and birth certificates starting in 2018. 

Germany’s top court has recognized a third gender; and on Wednesday, they ordered lawmakers to also recognize intersex people on official government documents.


“Courts and administrative authorities are no longer allowed to apply the relevant standards, insofar as they amount to an obligation to indicate sex to persons whose sex development has variations in relation to female or male sexual development and who therefore do not permanently assign themselves to male or female sex,” the ruling said.

According to CNN, once the law is passed, Germany will become the first European country to recognize male, female, and intersex individuals.

Germany’s high court stated that only identifying female or males was unconstitutional. In 2013, they also broke ground by allowing parents of intersex children to leave the gender box blank on birth certificates.

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Wednesday’s ruling was made in a case brought by an intersex person who wanted a third gender to be recognized. If the court wants to rule further, they may also change birth certificates to accommodate intersex babies.

“We fully respect the decision of the Federal Constitutional Court and the government is fully willing to implement the decision,” Johannes Dimroth, spokesman for Germany’s Interior Ministry, said.

According to the United Nations, 0.5% to 1.7% of the global population is born intersex, which means they do not have typical male or female sex characteristics such as chromosomes or hormones. For example, some intersex people have ambiguous genitalia.

Intersex individuals are at risk of discrimination and harmful medical procedures. According to Amnesty International, some intersex babies are operated on to give them traditional-looking genitalia so that they will appear to be male or female.

“Many intersex people suffer throughout their lives, physically but also psychologically,” Maja Liebing of Amnesty International in Germany told CNN. “We hope it can lead to a rethink in society, to a realization that there are more than two genders.”

The ruling has been met with mixed opinions in Germany. Some have shown their support online while those in the alt-right have expressed the idea of having a third gender as being “crazy.”

Campaigners from Transgender Europe and German rights groups called Wednesday’s decision “ground-breaking.”

“We welcome this ground-breaking judgment as a beacon of hope for anyone outside the norms of sex and gender in Germany and Europe. There are more than two genders and sexes,“ said a joint statement. “These individuals are particularly vulnerable to violence, discrimination, and inequalities in a system that only knows ‘male’ or ‘female’.”

The new legislation will be enforced by December 31, 2018.

What do you think of Germany’s decision? Let us know in the comments below.


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