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Germany Adds Third Gender to Birth Certificates

Germany adds third gender option to birth certificates
Photograph by Getty Images/Comstock Images

In a pretty progressive move, Germany will be the first European country to offer parents a third gender option on birth certificates come November. And it's all due to a newly-passed law aimed at protecting the rights of babies who are intersex (born with undetermined genders).

Soon, instead of being forced to categorize their child at birth by checking either "male" or "female", parents will be able to leave the space blank—thereby allowing their child to one day determine their own gender, if they so choose.

On the surface, the change is a small, yet powerful step forward. Even so, there are some in Germany who are upset the law doesn't go further. According to the Huffington Post, a German Family Law Journal called FarMZ has a few points of contention. Their biggest issue? The fact that any child whose gender is left blank will be up against some major headaches whenever they choose to travel abroad. They propose the children be assigned some set, though genderless, option such as "X", so they can mark their passports.

But that's not how everyone would like to handle the situation. In contrast, countries like Sweden have gone a slightly different route: They now label babies with undeclared genders as "hen" (as opposed to "han" for boy or "hon" for girl). The newly-created third-gender pronoun was even added to the dictionary to make it official.

But according to reports, Germany hasn't exactly been known for its progressiveness in areas concerning its gay, lesbian, or transgender citizens. While public opinion may have made strides in recent decades, the court system has not. Case in point: despite a 74 percent approval rating of gay marriage, it still remains illegal. (Although, it must be noted, same-sex unions are legal.)

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