Friday, November 01, 2013

Blog 8: Germany allows "indeterminate" gender at birth

Parents in Germany are now able to leave the gender blank on birth certificates. Germany is the first country in Europe to allow newborns with male and female characteristics to be registered neither as male or female. Instead, the new term for an undecided gender is indeterminate. There are as many as one in 2,000 people that are born with both male and female characteristics. This new law is aimed to push parents to make quick decisions about sex assignment surgeries for newborns. On German passports where the holders sex has been displayed with an M or an F, there will now be an X for unspecified or intersex.
There are, however, some controversies with this law. People who lack distinct gender-identifying genitalia are labeled as intersex. Intersex means that an individual has both male and female chromosomes and even genitalia that have characteristics of both genders. Before the law, when a baby was labeled as intersex the parents must quickly decide which gender the child should be so they can be registered as citizens. When the decision is made, a sex assignment surgery is soon to follow. This seems like the best option for the child so they could grow up without the confusion of what gender they are, but, many intersex individuals who have had sex assignment surgery feel as though they are neither male or female and should not have been surgically modified without their consent. There are also gray areas with the law regarding marriage and health care rights of intersex people.
There are positive and negative effects of this law. On the good side, governments around the world are bringing awareness to a underrepresented population of people who face the problem of having to identity with one sex or the other. This law now allows any person of any gender or sexuality to be integrated into our culture without feeling judged or stereotyped. The gray area s of the law are what could potentially cause civil rights issues. Very similar to gay rights in America, intersex rights globally are controversial because of traditional institutions about marriage and health care rights. Most countries see marriage as a sacred institution between a male and female, but how does this translate to indeterminate sexes? There is also uncertainty about surgeries and treatments (medicines) that should be administered to people who are intersex.

Aleah Chavis
November 1, 2013

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