Gender and sex are two completely different things. The means by which people identify with are so important, and in these modern times, people are becoming more aware that gender and sex or "male" and "female" are not one-size-fits-all terms. That's why it's so important for governments to recognize this. But one country is doing just that. On Wednesday, it was announced that Germany will now add a third gender option to birth certificates and it's amazing progress made towards recognizing that gender is a fully colored spectrum.
A Federal Constitutional Court in Germany ruled on Wednesday that there must be a third gender option on birth certificates for babies to be registered as intersex, according to Quartz. Lawmakers in Germany will have until 2018 to pass a law pertaining to this third gender when it will then become mandatory. According to CNN, the court ruled that the absence of a third option for those who don't identify as neither male or female was "unconstitutional." Talk about standing up for citizens, really.
The Federal Constitutional Court boldly defended the rights of citizens in a statement after the ruling, according to NPR:
The assignment of gender is of paramount importance for individual identity; it usually plays a key role both for a person's self conception and for the way this person is perceived by others.
If you're thinking that this sounds all too familiar, it's because it is, with just a few differences. In 2013, Germany became the first European nation to add a third gender onto birth certificates — but the third gender was specifically titled "blank," according to New York Daily News. The purpose of having a third blank gender was so that, once children became old enough, they could decide which gender they personally wanted to identify with, or opt to remain genderless for the rest of their lives.
With Wednesday's ruling, according to CNN, this solidified third gender (rather than "blank") will create a "positive gender entry" for babies. But the name for this third gender has yet to be determined (lawmakers will have a full year to decide the name for the third gender that will be listed on these birth certificates). According to Quartz, the court said that this new name must be a "positive description" of the third gender.
Being born intersex — or not identifying with male and female genders because their anatomy doesn't fit either label — is actually quite common. Between one in every 1,500 births or one in every 2,000 births will result in someone being born intersex, according to the Intersex Society of North America. Intersex conditions are not always diagnosed, according to the American Psychological Association, and these conditions are not always recognized at birth. But Germany's recognition of intersex individuals from birth will surely be able to help alleviate some of the confusion or stress for those who are born intersex.
But, according to Quartz, it is important to note that intersexuality is not the same thing as gender identity. Intersex describes someone's anatomy that does not fit either label, whereas gender identity pertains to someone who believes their gender and personal experience do not line up with their sex, according to Gender Spectrum.
While Germany has already proven that it's a progressive and welcoming country to give birth in — due to the country's confidential birth law and strict vaccination laws — this new requirement for a third gender on birth certificates certainly enhances this fact. But although Germany might be the first European country to recognize this, it certainly isn't the first one in the world. Australia, New Zealand, Nepal, and India already recognize a third gender on birth certificates, according to Quartz. In the United States, California is the only one out of 50 to legally recognize a third gender option, according to The Hill, after Gov. Jerry Brown signed state legislation to allow for residents to choose a third gender option.
With this latest ruling, it may pave the way further for all U.S. states and countries to follow suit soon.
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