An ABC News story that was on Good Morning America yesterday is turning heads. This November, Germany is to become the first European nation to legally, as well as bureaucratically, recognize a third gender in cases of babies born with ambiguous genitalia. The law requires birth certificates to have the option of "blank" next to male and female. The Munich newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung is calling it a "legal revolution."
The story estimates that 1 in 2000 infants are intersex, which means that they fall into an umbrella of roughly 60 possible conditions that would be classified as disorders of sexual development. These disorders would include unusual chromosomes and gonads. Historically, we called these people "hermaphrodites," and we believed that we could erase and redraw their gender identities at will.
U.S. doctors have recently come under controversy because gender identification is, frankly, not well understood. The standard practice is to assign a gender and wait for the child to develop mentally and physically before considering any kind of surgery.
A psychiatrist in New York City, Dr. Jack Drescher, said that the German birth certificate change "sounds like a good thing... Some people have life-endangering conditions that require surgery, but most kids do not... You can make a gender assignment without surgery and then see how identity develops. The science of knowing how a child will develop any gender identity is not very accurate.... Nobody can answer the questions about why this happens."
Not all European nations agree with Germany's progressive stance on the issue. France in particular has been cited as having trouble dealing with gender issues, and French lawmakers recently called for the removal of gender theory from school textbooks.
The Inquisitr notes that the first country in the world to bureaucratically recognize a third gender was Nepal, followed almost immediately by Australia, and that a Canadian group called Forcechange is taking signatures to petition the Canadian government for similar acknowledgement.
Der Spiegel writes that Finland is not very far behind Germany, but red tape is getting in the way. The policy director for the human rights watchdog group International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association, Silvan Agius, has claimed that the European Union is intentionally hampering efforts to make progress on third gender recognition: "Things are moving slower than they should at the European level... Germany's move will put more pressure on Brussels [and] that can only be a good thing."
Image courtesy of the Inquisitr.