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Intersex People Win Legal Rights With New 'Diverse' Category

A new classification for "third gender" people will give recognition to intersex citizens on official documents, in a historic move in Germany.

The country's intersex residents can now identify as such on their birth certificates, passports and other official paperwork.

A 'Diverse' category has been created for those who identify as neither man nor woman. A doctor's certificate is needed to meet requirements.

Intersex is the term for those who, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, "are born with sex characteristics (including genitals, gonads and chromosome patterns) that do not fit typical binary notions of male or female bodies." Such people may have been previously referred to as 'hermaphrodites'.

The term is unrelated to a person's gender identity or sexual orientation.

Until now, Germans who considered themselves intersex were given the option to leave the gender entry box on government forms blank.

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While the new German law has been applauded by campaigners, LGBTQ activists said the change excluded members of the trans community.

“For trans people, nothing has changed regarding the obstacles they face to change their registered name and gender,” Markus Ulrich, a spokesman for the Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany, told Reuters when the decree was initially passed in 2018.

The United Nations said almost two percent of the world's current population are born with intersex attributes.

Intersex German citizen Vanja, a leading voice in the fight for 'Dritte Option' (third option) gender recognition, campaigning in 2016. Image: Jan Woitas/picture alliance via Getty.

Intersex children and young adults have long suffered discrimination and human rights violations, including medically unnecessary surgery.

“The pressure to fit in and live a ‘normal’ life is real, but there is no evidence that surgery delivers on the promise of making that easier, and ample evidence that it risks causing irreversible lifelong harm," said Kyle Knight, a researcher from Human Rights Watch.

In April 2015, Malta became the first country to outlaw non-consensual medical interventions to modify sex anatomy, including that of intersex people

The Australian High Court ruled in 2014 that people with a third gender should legally be recognised.

A growing list of countries now have gender-neutral options on passports and official documents, like the census or ID cards.

Featured image: Getty.