On Friday, Nov. 1, Germany will become the first country in the world to allow parents to leave the gender box blank on their child's birth certificate. As reported in August, the move is an effort to create legal recognition for intersex individuals, or children born without a clearly determinable anatomical sex of male or female. With babies reportedly born without clearly determinable genitalia at a rate of 1 in every 1,500 -- and many intersex individuals not exhibiting characteristics until later in life -- the legislation seeks "to take the pressure off parents to commit themselves to a gender immediately after birth." "This will be the first time that the law acknowledges that there are human beings who are neither male nor female, or are both," stated University of Bremen law professor Konstanze Plett. "People who do not fit into the traditional legal categories... We will have fellow human beings with no sex registered. They can't be forced into either one of the traditional sexes in these other contexts." Earlier this year, the United Nations condemned "normalization" surgery, citing research that surgeries aiming to create an either anatomically male or female body for intersex infants often leads to more harm than help. The German law reportedly states that if a child "cannot be assigned to the female nor the male gender," their status "shall be entered without such information in the register of births." This is an interesting move but it doesn't go far enough," Silvan Agius, policy director at Equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people in Europe (ILGA), told Reuters. "Unnecessary surgeries will likely continue in Germany with devastating consequences... we live in a world where having a baby classified as 'other' is still considered undesirable." Germany's move follows in the footsteps of Australia, which became the first country in the world to began allowing a third gender option, or "X," on passports in late 2011.
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