Submitted by Yardbroom
Germany will become the first country in Europe to recognize a third or “undetermined” sex when registering births and so join a very small group of nations; if a report in the Suddentsche Zeitung is to be believed. “From 1 November the babies born in Germany without clear gender-determining physical characteristics, will be able to be registered without a sex on their birth certificates”.
Australians have allowed citizens to mark their gender on a passport as “x” since 2011 and New Zealand followed suit last year. Activists in both countries claim Legislation has helped curb discrimination against transsexuals and those of indeterminate gender.
Germany’s change is being seen as the country’s first legal acknowledgment, that it is possible for a human to be neither male or female. This could have far-reaching consequences in many legal areas. Justice Minister Sabine Leuthheusser – Schnarrenberger said: “the decision will have deep repercussions and will require “comprehensive reform” of all documents issued by the state.”
“While transsexuals are already legally recognized in Germany, hermaphrodites – those with both male and female genitalia – have always been forcibly registered as one or other sex at birth.”
The question can be asked, on what basis has Germany arrived at this far reaching decision? The recognition of third gender was based on a recommendation by the constitutional court, which sees legal recognition of a person’s experienced and lived gender as a personal human right. In an article in New Europe Silvan Agius, policy director at human rights organization ILGA Europe, told Spiegel Newspaper that: “the decision will push the rest of the EU to do the same.”
People of “undetermined sex will be allowed at any point throughout their lives, to identify themselves as one or other sex and register the change on their birth certificates. Although this has not been stated, if for example a person of “undetermined” sex at birth was raised as a boy, because of what his parents wanted or perceived him to be, and then at a later stage in his life, he became – say a teacher, John Thomas. He in the passage of time, if because of psychological difficulties – or other reasons wanted to change his name, and be formally known as Jane Thomas and dress as a female and continue to teach in the same school. This change of stated gender would make his/her life much easier. She could not be subjected to the difficulties sometimes now experienced by those of “undeterminate”sex at birth. This new legal framework will allow her to have her documentation changed without much ado.
The question of sex, gender and other related issues, have caused even more anguish in recent years. At the last Athletics world championships this month, the Russian pole vault world record holder Yelena Isinbayeva was criticised by fellow athletes for aligning herself too closely with Putin’s Russian Government’s hard line on gays. The Russian female 4 x 400 meter relay gold medalists, Kseniya Ryzhova and Tatyana Firova, had to defend and explain their position to the media when a kiss smack on the lips was exchanged during the medal ceremony. They asserted it was exhuberance and joy at their winning of the gold medal and no message was being sent to the Russian Government and no inference should be taken, as they are both married.
The world has moved on a-pace in the last twenty years or so, practices and behaviours once condemned are now being accepted – not without some opposition – in certain countries. In matters of human behaviour accepted practices can change over time. It is not for me to condemn others, for holding a view based on religion, the bible or faith. Or for that matter not having a view. We must, or should come to our own enlightenment but it is best if that is based on knowledge, experience, compassion and whatever values we hold that have made or is making us who we are.
Acknowledgement to Josie Le Blond of Guardian Newspapers