Germany Approves Third Gender Option for Intersex People

Germany has approved draft legislation that would add a third gender to options on official identity records. Though the German cabinet has approved it, Parliament must now pass the law for it to be officially signed this year.

Germany would join countries like Australia, Canada, India, Nepal, and New Zealand in having a third option. It is the first European country to do so.

Germany’s new law would allow intersex people to register as “divers,” which could be translated to “other,” according to Deutsche Welle. It comes after a Constitutional Court ruling in 2017 that sided with an intersex defendant. The court found that the current system in place had violated Germany’s anti-discrimination laws and had violated a citizen’s individual rights.

Lawmakers have come out supporting the new legislation.

Franziska Giffey, the minister for families and a member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) said, according to DW, that the legislation is “an important step toward the legal recognition of people whose gender identity is neither male nor female.”

The German Justice Minister, Katarina Barley, also of SPD, hailed the bill. On Twitter, she wrote: “No human being is to be discriminated against for their sexual identity. The introduction of a third gender option was overdue.”

DW reported that the Justice Ministry is in the process of changing other policies that currently exclude intersex people. The outlet reports that there are up to an estimated 120,000 intersex-identifying people in Germany.

The new law comes after a case involving an intersex person who argued that the state should not be allowed to force intersex people into choosing either female or male on identity documentation. In 2013, Germany began to allow intersex children to not be required to register as female or male, according to Reuters.

“The legislature [parliament] has until 31 December 2018 to create a new regulation,” the Constitutional Court’s ruling said, reported PinkNews“Courts and administrative authorities are no longer allowed to apply the relevant standards, insofar as they amount to an obligation to indicate sex to persons whose sex development has variations in relation to female or male sexual development and who therefore do not permanently assign themselves to male or female sex.”

“Bureaucratic and financial cost, or regulatory interests of the state, cannot justify the refusal of a new, positive option for registrations,” it continued.

Some LGBTQ activists, however, say the legislation isn’t enough.

“For trans people, nothing has changed regarding the obstacles they face to change their registered name and gender,” Markus Ulrich, a spokesman for the Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany, told Reuters.

Richard Koehler of Transgender Europe also called out the law, telling Reuters that it could potentially be invasive in determining if a person is intersex.

“Those who cannot or do not want to submit themselves to such invasive medicalization will remain excluded and without legal recognition. This is discriminatory,” he said.

Still, others have worked for the law to be passed, including Moritz Prasse of the Third Option, the organization that backed the first legal challenge.

Prasse tells Reuters, “It is a step in the right direction and we hope other states will follow.”

Image via Getty

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