Germany has now instituted a law stating that babies born with both male and female characteristics no longer have to be subjected to sexual assignment surgery and will, instead, have a third option on their birth certificate that will be blank, to be filled in by their parents at a later date.
“If a child cannot be designated male or female, then they should be entered on the birth register without such a status,” the new law states.
The repercussions of assigning a sex to a child before they’ve hit puberty has been much discussed over the years, and several countries are making an effort to change the laws surrounding how a person is identified at birth if they don’t conform exclusively to male or female. Australia was the first country to do so earlier this year, giving parents a third option on birth certificates which can be marked with an “X” to help maneuver around the requirements of official documents such as passports.
“A key aim of the new rule is to relieve parents of the pressure of having to decide a sex straight after the child’s birth, and thereby agreeing overly hastily to medical procedures to settle the child’s sex,” said a spokesman for the German Interior Ministry.
Now, however, there is a worry that the third option will “out” children born with indiscriminate sex organs and could lead to discrimination, emotional issues, and bullying.
“This is an interesting move but it doesn’t go far enough,” said Silvan Agius, policy director at the Brussels-based rights group Equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people in Europe. “Unnecessary surgeries will likely continue in Germany with devastating consequences… we live in a world where having a baby classified as ‘other’ is still considered undesirable.”