Some very interesting news came in my email this morning. The Bundestag has passed a law that allows for the gender of newborn babies to be left indeterminate, effectively creating a third gender. However, this was swiftly followed by concerned emails citing the unhappiness of German intersex activists with the new law. They have issued a press release. I don’t read German at all, but I’ve run the text through Google Translate and this is what I think it says:
- The law does not provide a choice, it makes registration as intersex a requirement in certain conditions.
- The parents will have no say, it will be up to doctors to determine if the baby is intersex.
- Even if the baby qualifies, doctors may be reluctant to use the new category because of the social stigma they fear would result for the family.
- The majority of intersex people won’t qualify, and therefore can’t benefit from the law
These are all reasonable points. It would have been much more sensible to allow parents, and eventually the intersex individuals themselves, a say in the decision. And, as with other forms of social stigma, passing laws alone can’t fix the problem. Intersex rights still have a very long way to go, and in many ways the recent UN decision to condemn “normalization” surgery is more important, but this is a very interesting development, especially as the British Parliament is currently debating gender issues.
Talking of which, a number of trans-friendly amendments to the marriage equality bill were submitted today. Zoe O’Connell has an explanation.
If anyone out there reads German and has corrections to my understanding of the press release, please let me know.