A third gender option is making waves this week after Germany became recognized as the first European country to give the OK and legally provide parents with the option of marking a third gender for babies that are born intersex, or with ambiguous genitalia. Web Pro News reports this Friday, Aug. 23, that while the option simply allows parents to leave the gender section blank instead of male or female, some groups are arguing that an “X” in the indeterminate field will make understanding the new legality easier for other European nations.
The third gender option is being called by one German newspaper as a very real “legal revolution” — a choice for babies of indeterminate sex to have their parents (or themselves, when the time is right) to identify themselves as a particular gender. Rather than putting down on a birth certificate immediately if a child is male or female, this blank option — or an “X” mark in a third check box — could be used.
According to the OK report, roughly 1 in each and every 2,000 infants may be identified as intersex. Intersex is only an umbrella term, however, meaning that the child falls into a potential 60 sexual development disorders category, involving uncommon gonads or chromosome material. Though these babies have been called hermaphrodites in the past, this third gender option under German law is intended to not “force” sexual identification upon anyone.
While leaving the section blank was proposed at first, some academic journals and groups are proposing that an “X” mark be used instead in a third indeterminate check box, which would help the child when traveling with a passport, for example, in a country that does not recognize the third gender option. Though the OK has been given in Germany for the law involving sex ID's on a birth certificate, other European countries may not follow suit.
One expert in the field of gender studies noted that gender identification is not nearly fully understood at this time, but that the third gender option seems to be a start in the right direction.
“[The birth certificate change] indeed sounds like a good thing in Germany… Some people have life-endangering conditions that require surgery, but most kids do not… You can make a gender assignment without surgery and then see how identity develops. The science of knowing how a child will develop any gender identity is not very accurate…. Nobody can answer the questions about why this happens.”
What is your take on this third gender option breakthrough?