Photo via Stanford Center for Internet and Society
Germany’s highest court has ordered that a third sex must be added on official documents, becoming the first European country to initiate the change.
The Federal Constitutional Court has ruled the formulation of a new term covering intersex people, making use of a “positive name for the sex” for birth certificates by the end of 2018.
The decision came after an intersex person, who is neither a woman nor man according to chromosomal study, delivered a legal challenge after trying to change their registered sex to “divers” or “inter.”
Authorities declined the original application because, under German civil law, a child must be listed as female or male, or the section left blank.
Judges that are sitting in Karlsruhe directed that the present requirements are not compatible with the constitution of Germany, violating provisions on discrimination and privacy.
“The legislature [parliament] has until 31 December 2018 to create a new regulation,” said the ruling.
“Courts and administrative authorities are no longer allowed to apply the relevant standards, insofar as they amount to an obligation to indicate sex to persons whose sex development has variations in relation to female or male sexual development and who therefore do not permanently assign themselves to male or female sex.”
The Federal Constitutional Court said that the assignment of a sex was “of paramount importance for individual identity,” for both the self-worth of a person and how they are seen by others.
Judges decreed that forcing people who were neither female nor male to leave forms blank was “unjustified” as the basic law does not require a binary definition of sex.
Foreshadowing a reaction from right-wing groups, they continued that “by simply opening up the possibility of another sex entry nobody is forced to associate with it.”
“Bureaucratic and financial cost, or regulatory interests of the state, cannot justify the refusal of a new, positive option for registrations,” stated a ruling that was released on Wednesday.
“The legislature could waive the entry of sex in the register.
“Instead, it may also give the affected persons the opportunity to choose another positive name for gender that is not male or female.”
German rights groups and Transgender Europe campaigners welcomed the “ground-breaking” judgment, which closely follows the legalisation of the country of same-sex marriage.
“We welcome this ground-breaking judgement as a beacon of hope for anyone outside the norms of sex and gender in Germany and Europe. There are more than two genders and sexes,“ stated a joint statement.
”It is high time to recognise the rights of every person not identifying as exclusively male or female, regardless of their sex characteristics.
“These individuals are particularly vulnerable to violence, discrimination and inequalities in a system that only knows ‘male’ or ‘female’.”