in brief: germany forgoes gender on birth certificates
Legislation has come into effect in Germany allowing intersex individuals to not be identified as male or female on their birth certificates.
Intersex describes a range of anatomical variations of the reproductive organs and genitals which results in people having both male and female characteristics, with approximately one in 2,000 people born intersex.
Germany joins Australia as the only sovereign states in the world to not require categorising children by biological sex.
In Germany, the sex field may be left blank on the birth certificate, where as other official documents will require an ‘M’, ‘F’ or ‘X’ gender as is policy in Australia.
The move by the German government is hoped to prevent parents making rash decisions on selecting a gender for their children.
As highlighted by organisations representing the interests of intersex individuals, such as OII Australia, involuntary or coerced sterilisation and genital normalisation procedures have been imposed on intersex children due to socio-cultural norms pressuring parents to have a child be ascribed solely masculine or feminine characteristics.
Such activist groups cite this as a blatant human rights violation of intersex people and as such the procedures are garnering more international attention, including in the recent Australian senate report.
However, activists told the Wall Street Journal they believe the social stigma of having a blank sex could hasten German parents’ decisions on genital normalising procedures.
‘Our main criticism is that this will increase the pressure on parents,’ Swiss activist, Markus Bauer said.
The German government has not responded to these criticisms and other activists have noted there is a long way to go in reducing such stigma.