Under a new law adopted late in December, German citizens now have the legal right to identify themselves as a third gender classified as “diverse” under the regulation, which gives those who wish to do so the right to choose a gender identity that is neither female or male if they are in possession of a doctor’s certificate.
According to lawmakers, the goal of the new legislation is to lift the social stigma that some transgender individuals claim they are subjected to, leading certain cases to seek unwanted gender reassignment surgery.
German law previously allowed a categorical choice of gender, forcing an either-or binary choice of social gender identity, although a chromosome test often reveals intersex people are neither.
Until November 2017, the parents of intersex children had to leave the gender box on birth certificates blank. Germany’s constitutional court, however, ruled that denying people a gender was a discriminatory practice, which led to the new legislation being adopted in December.
Just over 1% of the world’s population is born with both male and female sex characteristics, according to the UN. Germany is the first EU country to introduce a third category, although a number of EU members allow individuals to retroactively review their social gender identity, including Denmark, Malta, Ireland, Belgium, Portugal, and Norway.
Germany’sdecision to add a third option follows in the footsteps of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, India, and Nepal in offering the same choice.