Not male or female? Germans can now choose 'diverse'

Germans will now be able to choose a third gender option on their birth certificates. Source: Getty Images

German lawmakers approved a third option for legal documents in response to a landmark court case that said gender identity was a personal freedom.

Germans will now be able to choose “diverse” as an option for gender on birth certificates and other legal records, after the country’s parliament passed a measure introducing the third category on Friday, in a milestone for people who do not identify as either male or female.

The change came more than a year after Germany’s highest court ruled that binary gender designations were discriminatory and in violation of guarantees of personal freedom.

The court ordered legislators to change the law to include a third category or do away with gender classification altogether.

Under the new law, adults must produce a doctor’s statement or other medical certification confirming their gender fluidity in order to change their existing designation to the new option.

That condition met with criticism from groups representing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Germans. They argued against 

relying on medical certification to establish gender, saying physical indicators are not the sole determinant.

“If people feel seriously and sustainably not male or female, the law must allow them to legally register their status as they define it,” Germany’s Association of Lesbians and Gays said.

It called on legislators “to make the category ‘diverse’ open to all individuals who need it and want it,” without requiring medical certification.

The new measure reflects shifts in society that increasingly recognize gender as not necessarily fixed at birth.

Lawmakers from the far-right party Alternative for Germany, or AfD, opposed the bill.

“Gender designation has been an objective fact since the beginning of humanity, just like age and body shape,” said Beatrix von Storch, a leading lawmaker from the party.

In 2013, Germany became the first European country to allow parents to register newborns as neither female nor male if a child was born with characteristics of both sexes. Parents may still leave gender designation blank under the new measure.

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