The third gender option that allows parents not to determine their child’s gender as male or female at birth but to let the individual decide whether he or she wants to be considered male, female, or neither one of the two later in life is a new law that will be available in Germany at the beginning of November. The third gender option applies to babies who are born with ambiguous genitalia. “No longer will newborns be rigidly assigned male or female,” reported ABC News on Aug. 22, 2013.
“An estimated 1 in 2,000 children born each year is neither boy nor girl -- they are intersex, part of a group of about 60 conditions that fall under the diagnosis of disorders of sexual development (DSD), an umbrella term for those with atypical chromosomes, gonads (ovaries and/or testes), or unusually developed genitalia.”
Most parents do not have a third gender option when their baby is born. The decision whether a baby is male or female even though the baby’s sex cannot be determined at birth can make the difference between living a life in heaven or hell for the child.
According to Organisation Intersex International (OII), intersex people represent a significant percentage of the global population, from 1.9% to 4%.
“The term intersex was adopted by science in the early 20th century and applied to human beings whose biological sex cannot be classified as clearly male or female. An intersex person may have the biological attributes of both sexes or lack some of the biological attributes considered necessary to be defined as one or the other sex.”
The causes of intersex babies being born can be due to genetics, chromosomal or hormonal variations, or environmental influences. Individuals who deliberately change their sexual characteristics because of psychological influences are not considered intersex individuals.
One of the challenges for intersex individuals is that while at birth there is no clear distinction possible whether the baby is male or female, as the child grows older, secondary sexual characteristics such as muscle mass, hair distribution, breasts, and stature might develop.
You are what your birth certificate says.
If parents do not have a third gender option but are forced to choose at birth whether a baby is considered “male” or “female,” that child is usually raised as such.
But what if the “male” intersex baby starts to develop breasts as a teen and grows into a beautiful young lady? Instead of feeling beautiful, the child will feel "what is wrong with me?"
The revolutionary third gender law that begins in November in Germany frees parents from having to make a mistake that can devastate a child’s life.
The German magazine Der Spiegel reports that with the third gender option, parents can select “blank,” “male,” or “female” on a birth certificate. Under the new third option gender law, individuals can remain “outside the gender binary altogether” or “choose whether to become male or female in later life.”
Internationally, Germany is joining Finland, Australia, and Nepal in allowing parents the third gender option. While Germany has not yet determined how to deal with the third gender option on passports and other official documents, Australia and Nepal already allow adults to mark male, female or a "third gender" on their official documents.
According to a Pink News report, in 2010, 48-year-old Scottish-Australian Norrie May-Welby became the first person in the western world who was officially declared to be neither a man nor a woman.
At birth, Norrie May-Welby was marked as “male” even though doctors were later on able to confirm that Norrie May-Welby was physically neither definitely male nor female. As unfortunately many intersex children do, Norrie May-Welby tried to be either male or female; physically as well as psychologically.
After spending almost 50 years trying to fit into society as either male or female – including hormone treatments, surgeries, and psychological help -- Norrie May-Welby became the world's first recognized "genderless" person and was able to keep an “unspecified” gender status for life.
With the new third gender option law, many intersex children in Germany will hopefully be spared this lifetime struggle.