Constitutional court recognises third gender

Germany's top legal body, the Federal Constitutional Court, has ruled that there must be the option of entering a third gender on birth certificates. It justified the decision saying that gender identity is a central aspect of an individual's personality and people cannot be forced to identify with one of only two categories: male or female. What some media see as a historical decision will only generate excessive bureaucracy, others argue.

Open/close all quotes (DE) /

Judgement is logical and consistent

For the ruling has historical dimensions:

“Because it ends the classic division of genders into male or female in Germany. ... Intersex people can't be clearly assigned either genetically or physically to the male or female gender. They therefore perceive themselves as neither male nor female. ... Because a person's personality plays such a key role, it is protected by the Basic Law as an independent fundamental right. This protection of a fundamental right must not be denied to intersexual people just because they are a minority or because we're confused about how to treat them. So it's logical and consistent to approve a third gender for all these people.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Intersexual persons finally free

Berlin correspondent for La Repubblica Tonia Mastrobuoni sees the ruling as historical:

“The judges haven't stipulated whether the official designation will be 'inter' or 'diverse'. The designation will be enshrined in the law to be passed by the government and parliament in 2018. Those who won the right not to be registered as either male or female can now choose a third gender. Intersexual persons will no longer be an empty data field without a cross. Since time immemorial those born without a clear gender identity - there was a time when they were disdainfully referred to as 'hermaphrodites' - have been forced to take a decision that involved operations, painful hormone therapies and humiliating trips to the authorities. Thanks to this historical ruling they are finally free to be themselves.”

El País (ES) /

Germany blazing new trails

Spain should follow the example of trailblazers like Germany, El País demands:

“Most states allow people to change their registered name and gender, but many continue to demand special authorisation from a court or that the person undergoes a sex change operation prior to gender reassignment. In Spain neither a court authorisation nor an operation is needed, but you do need a medical diagnosis confirming the gender dysphoria. The next step should be to recognise the existence of a gender distinct to the male or female genders, as the constitutional court in Germany has done. Up to now only a handful of states like India, Australia, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Samoa have officially recognised an alternative gender. This step is important because it offers security and helps to counter prejudice and discrimination.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Court has lost all sense of proportion

The implementation of the Constitutional Court's decision will be problematic, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung predicts:

“In addition to women, men and inter/diverse there will be a multitude of other minorities who have their own conception of their gender and may demand that it be officially recognised. The elimination of one purported type of discrimination will only create new types of discrimination. Secondly, the court is ignoring the potential objection that the state - and therefore the community of citizens - could have a legitimate interest in keeping the bureaucratic and financial resources that go into the fulfilment of its tasks in check. Expending a certain amount of additional time and resources on this is acceptable, the court said tersely. Here the court may have lost all sense of proportion if one considers the potential consequences of the ruling.”