News agencies here and abroad announced on Sunday that Germany has become the first European State to allow the use of "third gender" birth certificates.
The law will become effective on November 1, and is the first of its kind to deal specifically with infants born with ambiguous or unusual sexual characteristics that make it difficult to determine the sex of the child.
This is not the first time though, that "third gender" questions have been raised. The law has nothing to do with homosexuals, or transsexuals, but instead applies to "intersexuals," also known as hermaphrodites. Hermaphrodites are individuals born with male and female sexual characteristics.
This law follows up as an amendment to Germany's Civil Status Act of May 9, 2013. There was little in the way of publicity until a number of groups, such as FarMZ, a German Family Law Journal, outlined the law's shortcomings. Of particular concern to the group was the possibility of legal challenges arising, if someone choosing the third gender option decides to travel overseas.
Surprisingly, Germany is not the only country to dabble in the intricate legal and cultural implications that could arise when dealing with a third gender. Earlier this year, Nepal started issuing "third gender" citizenship certificates. In 2011, Australia began allowing citizens to mark their gender on passports using the letter "X." A year later, in 2012, New Zealand followed suit.
The change to a "third gender" will have broad ranging ramifications on everything from passports to marriage certificates, to name only a couple things. There are school records, employment records, and medical records to consider, and adjusting to the idea of the new gender classification will take some time.
What Germany has started, the rest of the nations of the world are going to have to deal with, whether they agree with Germany or not. Remember, there will be passports and medical certificates, as well as immigration forms to handle. It will take time, and there will be some countries that may not accept a "third gender."