As of today (January 1), German citizens who identify as intersex will be able to choose a third gender option on official documents.
In August last year, the German government voted to introduce a third category on birth certificates and other official documents. This means, alongside ‘male’ and ‘female’ categories, a third – ‘diverse’ – will also be an option.
Intersex generally refers to people who do not identify biologically as either male or female. They’re often born with one or a number of variations in sexual characteristics which, according to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, ‘do not fit the typical definitions for male or female bodies’.
Both chambers of the German parliament approved the new law.
However, some LGBT campaigners have complained about the new measure, saying it doesn’t go far enough to include others. Currently, the new ruling requires a doctor’s certificate to ‘prove’ a person is intersex, Mail Online reports.
Campaigners are now asking for more new laws to make it easier for people, such as those who no longer identify with the gender they were born with, to change their gender on official documents.
Lawmakers in Germany voted on the new ruling following the Federal Constitutional Court’s calling for a third category – or to get rid of gender categories altogether – in an individual’s official documents.
In October 2018, the Australian state of Tasmania also voted to remove gender from birth certificates.
Both the Labor and Green party want to remove gender from documents so trans people don’t have to disclose their transgender status when going about tasks where they have to state their identity, such as applying for jobs.
Other amendments propose removing the need for transgender people to have sex change surgery before switching gender on official documents, The Australian reports.
Sue Hickey, Speaker of the Tasmanian House of Assembly, said:
I do think the world is changing and we need to be open to considering things that might discriminate or harm somebody. I’m very open.
Transgender activist, Martine Delaney explained the move would have a significant impact on transgender people, stating:
It is not doing away with gender. That information would still be recorded by the registrar and medical records in the hospital.
It just simply wouldn’t be displayed on the birth certificate.
However, the Liberal government, as well as Christian and feminist groups, believe the bill has been ‘hijacked’ by the transgender lobby.
Australian Christian Lobby state director, Mark Brown, told The Australian the bill was ‘essentially abolishing gender’, and ‘homogenising humanity’.
If you are legally a transgender woman, even if you have a penis you can go wherever you want in terms of women’s safe spaces.
While Greens leader, Cassy O’Connor, said the changes would end discrimination and make a real difference to lives:
The flow-on effects of being able to have your birth certificate either gender neutral or changed to your correct gender are profoundly life-changing.
Perhaps Australia and Germany’s new rulings will inspire other countries to do the same.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.