Germany: Birth certificates to gain third gender option

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From November this year, Germany will become the first country in Europe to introduce a third option for assigning gender on birth certificates, giving parents the choice to leave the child’s gender indeterminate.

Der Spiegel reports that, from 1 November, birth certificates in Germany will have the option of selecting “blank”, as well as “male” or “female”.

Parents who use the “blank” option will allow for their offspring, such as those born with characteristics of both genders, to decide on their gender identity in later life, or to opt out of the gender binary altogether.

It remains unclear how this will affect passports, which still require a selection of “M” or “F”.

German family law publication FamRZ wrote on the change to law, which occurred in May but had yet to be reported on, speculating that an “X” option for passports may be a suitable move.

International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) Europe policy director Silvan Agius said the rest of the European Union is lagging behind on this issue. Only Finland has paid a comparable amount of attention to indeterminate gender policies.

“Things are moving slower than they should at the European level”, said Agius. “Though Brussels has ramped up efforts to promote awareness of trans and intersex discrimination, I would like to see things speed up.”

An EU report on potential changes to European Union law, which was published in 2012 and co-authored by Agius, found that discrimination against trans and intersex people was still “rampant in all EU countries.”

“Germany’s move will put more pressure on Brussels,” Agius concludes. “That can only be a good thing.”