German Law To Allow Intersex Babies A Undetermined Sex Is Great But Could Be Better



Great news for European LGBTI activists! Germany recently became the first European country to allow infants born with indeterminate characteristics of sex to be registered as an “indeterminate sex.” This will lessen the pressure to choose one sex or another viasex assignment surgery on parents, which have lasting consequences for intersex individuals.

As far as numbers go, as many as one in 1500 people are born with some characteristics of both sexes. In the past parents were pressured to choose a sex as soon as possible so the child could be registered with authorities as a male or a female. If necessary, this choice would include serious surgery to push a child as far towards one sex as they could, but botches and mixups have often ruined lives and made things difficult for intersex adults. possible in one direction or the other, our correspondent says.

Of course, many LGBTI advocates say it doesn’t go far enough, and I couldn’t agree more. This new law, while a step in the right direction, doesn’t address the surgeries that take place at all. There is also no mention on how this could affect partnership and marriage laws in Germany. According to Silvan Agius, from IGLA-Europe, a LGBTI advocacy group:

“While on the one hand it has provided a lot of visibility about intersex issues… it does not address the surgeries and the medicalisation of intersex people and that’s not good – that has to change.”

I seriously hope this is just a stepping stone on the path to full rights and protections for intersex people, not only in Germany but in all of Europe. It would be great to see some of this spread to the US as well. Bravo, Germany, bravo.

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  • Tea

    As someone who was altered at birth and is still fixing things, this makes me extremely happy, now the rest of the world needs to catch on.

  • Tea

    As someone who was altered at birth and is still fixing things, this makes me extremely happy, now the rest of the world needs to catch on.

  • Katia

    Wow 1/1500 is kind of a lot. I had no idea this condition was that common. Must be very hard for the parents at first. And obviously, hard for the child later.
    The critiques presented here are not very clear for anyone who doesn’t already know about these issues. I’m guessing that advocates want to prevent parents from deciding on surgery and hormone pills for their kids before the kids decide? If so I totally agree… Let each person decide when and how they want to alter their genitals. Yes, including male circumcision.

    • Frances Locke

      I think the main concern among activists is preventing early surgeries, many of which are done after the parents simply roll the dice on which sex is best, and are done primarily so that the child can be registered and get a birth certificate and whatnot. They typically wouldn’t start hormones until puberty sets in, from what I’ve been reading about the subject. I agree with you about circumcision.

    • Mel

      Just a heads up, I don’t know the numbers, but male circumcision is also very rare in Germany.

    • Mel

      Just a heads up, I don’t know the numbers, but male circumcision is also very rare in Germany.

    • Psych Student

      If you’re interested, the choice parents are pushed to make is less than a roll of the dice (I leaned about this in a class in college, so it’s not like it’s common knowledge). The doctors tend towards thinking that if a child does not have what will turn into being a “sufficient” penis that will be able to provide pleasure to a woman, then they encourage the parents to “make” the child a “girl”. It is all *very* heterosexual, and *very* nauseating. The idea that penis-in-vagina sex is the only satisfying sex, and that a penis has to be of a certain size is all very distressing. On a side note, studies indicate that men with micro penises have partners who report higher levels of sexual satisfaction than partners of more average sized penises. The theory, I believe, is that, without a “sufficient” penis to pleasure a partner, the men with micro penises use hands, fists, tongues, dildos, vibrators, strap-ons, etc.

      The end result (back to the original point) is that children born with an intersex condition who have operations very early in life can end up with a lifetime of pain and suffering and experience emotional distress and confusion as it is not often discussed enough for the person to understand what is going on with their genitals.

  • Annona

    I didn’t realize this was so prevalent. I wonder, how many people out there were “altered” to be one sex or the other as an infant and don’t even know they were born with both genders…

    I am not onboard with doing anything to any baby’s genitals that is not necessary to saving his/her life. Including circumcision, as others have said.

  • Plueeeeez

    I can sleep now.

  • Rachelle

    I’m sorry, I’m blocked on the title of the post. I can’t make it out.

  • Carly Rae

    I think this is a brilliant idea It may take a while but If these kids are brought up with what we consider to be ‘normal’ children…

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