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Germany must add third gender option, court rules

The alternative is to get rid of gender altogether on public documents.

Nov 9, 2017, 11:09 am

Internet Culture


Ana Valens

Transgender and gender nonconforming people have just landed a major victory in Germany. Earlier this week, the country’s highest court ruled that the national government must create a third gender option on legal documents for people who do not identify as male or female. The ruling comes as a victory for an intersex citizen who challenged the government’s legal gender binary in court, after they wanted to use the terms “inter” or “divers” on public documents.

Under the Federal Constitutional Court decision, the German government can make one of two choices for gender nonconforming inclusion—it can either do away with gendered identification on public documents altogether, or the nation must introduce a third gender option on all identification papers. Parliament has until the end of 2018 to make a decision, and the court stresses that the country must use a “positive name” for anyone with a third gender option.

“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… who therefore do not permanently assign themselves to male or female sex,” the court ruled, according to the Independent. “Bureaucratic and financial cost, or regulatory interests of the state, cannot justify the refusal of a new, positive option for registrations.”

Suffice to say, queer activists around the world are excited by the news. Many turned to Twitter with hopes that Germany’s forward-thinking will encourage other countries to get rid of their rigid gender binaries.

In the U.S., California recently passed a bill officially recognizing nonbinary citizens on public documents, and Oregon and Washington, D.C., offer nonbinary gender marker options on drivers’ licenses. As trans acceptance continues to grow in the U.S., it wouldn’t be surprising if other left-leaning states soon followed suit.

H/T the New York Times

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*First Published: Nov 9, 2017, 11:09 am