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Germany officially recognizing third gender at birth

Making it the first European country to do so, Germany now offers intersex people the choice of identifying as neither male or female, with there being a third gender option on birth certificates

8 November 2017, 3:52pm
The activist group, Third Option, is completely 'overwhelmed' by the decision to make a third gender option available
The activist group, Third Option, is completely 'overwhelmed' by the decision to make a third gender option available
Making it the first European country to offer intersex people the choice of identifying as neither male nor female, Germany’s top court has ruled in favour of a third gender on birth certificates.

The case was brought forward by a registered female, whose chromosome test confirmed that they were neither one sex nor the other.

In what activists described as a “small revolution”, the constitutional court in Karlsruhe gave the government until the end of 2018 to pass a law, specifying a category other than male or female.

The court added that current regulations on civil status were discriminatory against those who identified as intersex and asked for the category to be called either “inter” or “various”.

A German government spokesperson confirmed that the government would comply with the ruling.

The activist group, Third Option – which has been campaigning for official recognition – said that it was “completely overwhelmed” and rendered "speechless" by the decision.

Intersex people refer to those who are born with a combination of both male and female sex characteristics. According to the UN, the condition affects up to 1.7% of the world’s population.

Though intersex people are already recognized on official documents in Australia, India, New Zealand, Nepal and the US – where the first intersex birth certificate was issued last year – this decision makes Germany the first in Europe.

Since 2013, it was possible to leave the gender box blank on birth certificates, for those born as intersex. However, before then, if there was any doubt, officials would enter either female or male themselves.