Starting in November, Germany will become the first country in Europe to provide an “indeterminate” gender selection on birth certificates. This law gives parents a somewhat “laissez-faire” approach to their child’s gender identity. Most importantly, children born with both male and female characteristics will be able to choose their own gender later in life. By marking “blank” on the birth certificate, parents can give their kid the freedom to identify in whatever way he or she sees fit.
Germany’s passage of this legislation is groundbreaking for Europe, but in order to keep things fully non-discriminatory, other legal documents will have to follow suit. For example, passports in Germany still require all citizens to pick between “M” or “F.” Maybe they should take note of Australia’s rulings, which passed just six weeks ago. Now, all legal forms in Australia allow any person, even those who have not completed a sex reassignment operation or hormone therapy, can select the third category.
Unfortunately, changes within the European Union are moving at a semi-glacial pace. "Things are moving slower than they should at the European level," says Silvan Agius, policy director at human rights organization ILGA (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association) Europe. "Though Brussels has ramped up efforts to promote awareness of trans and intersex discrimination, I would like to see things speed up." In 2012, Agius co-wrote an EU report on potential changes to European Union law, which found that prejudice against trans and intersex individuals was "rampant in all EU countries." However, Agius remains hopeful for the future. "Germany's move will put more pressure on Brussels," he concludes. "That can only be a good thing."
Photo via Spiegel