In Germany, the gender field can now be left blank on birth certificates under the newly passed German legislation, which successfully creates a grouping for unspecified sex in the public index.
Campaigners who have been endorsing the rights of “intersex” individuals said they anticipated the gender field formation of a third gender choice would allow the door to be opened to wider changes that would limit doing surgery on the genitals of newborns who have both female and male features.
This is a very important first step in the right direction, stated Lucie Veith, who identified as an intersex person from the German city of Hamburg. But she added that leaving the gender unclear on the birth certificates of newborns was never the focal lobbying point for the Association of Intersexed People in the country or for any others that are members of the intersex community.
She stated that they wanted to forbid genital cosmetic surgeries on newborns, that was their first demand. The gender field section being left blank was an added plus.
The Association of Intersexed People wanted a ban on medically pointless surgeries until the child turned the age of 16, so the intersex person could be able to decide for himself or herself whether they wanted to live as a man, or woman or as neither one.
The novel German law is projected to eliminate stress on parents so they will not make any decisions too soon about controversial sex assignment surgeries for their newborns. However, activists have said it does not go far enough yet.
Such surgeries will probably continue in Germany, stated Silvan Agius, who is the policy administrator at ILGA Europe, which is a gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex rights group.
Agius said that even before having the choice of not putting down a baby’s gender on record, individuals already had the opportunity to say that they did not want any surgery until their child could decide what gender he or she was.
Agius and other campaigners are in fear that the new law will do nothing to change the social order that functions essentially on a gender twofold with accommodations such as separate female and male toilets. That is not going to change anytime in the near future, no matter what laws are put into place.
Specialists guesstimate that about one in every 1,500 to 2,000 births end in a baby of uncertain gender or the child has both male and female characteristics.
Genital surgeries such as removal of undescended testicles, vaginoplasty, clitoral reductions or vaginal surgical creation are executed to physically give the newborn a male or female gender.
According to a European Commission report that was taken in 2012 on the subject, these operations are performed on intersex babies in numerous European countries deprived of suitable informed consent by the newborns parents.
The research also discovered that many of these intersex-born people were livid that these surgeries were done when they were too young to give their own consent after they reach adulthood and realize what had happened to them.
In 2009, a provincial court in western Germany awarded more than$135,130 in damages to an intersex person who was raised as a male and who had a uterus and womb removed as a teenager.
The court stated that the doctor who performed this surgery had violated the person’s health and well-being, according to an EU Commission study.
However, not every person who had underwent such operations as children find themselves unhappy as adults. A European council addressed the genital surgery issue for the very first time last month.
It decided to adopt a resolution that called on member states to research the frequency of non-medically warranted operations which could harm children and take steps to make sure that nobody is subjected to needless surgical treatment which is cosmetic in natural instead of being vital for health during a person’s infancy or their childhood.
With Germany passing the law that the gender field can be left blank on birth certificates, the pointless operations just might be slowly on their way out.
By: Kimberly Ruble