Germans Get a New Third Gender Option at Birth

First country to do so

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A new law in Germany is opening the door for parents to register their newborn children as something other than male or female.

Starting Nov. 1, German parents will be able to register their children as being of indeterminate sex if their babies show intersex characteristics. The move makes Germany the first European country to effectively recognize an intersex option on birth certificates, Deutsche Welle reports.

German parents previously have sometimes had to approve surgery to adjust the physical characteristics of their baby to be able to register it as a boy or a girl.

The change in policy follows a report by the German Ethics Council in 2012, which said “many people who are subjected to ‘normalizing’ operation in their childhood have later felt it to have been a mutilation and would never have agreed to it as adults.”

Intersex people, those who are born with neither exclusively male nor female characteristics, are one of the most invisible groups in German society noted Spiegel back in August, when the change in law was announced.

While the move has been heralded as a positive step, the German Interior Ministry said it was still “not adequate to fully resolve the complex problems of intersex people.”