On November 1 Germany became the first European country to recognise indeterminate sex by allowing babies born with no clear gender-determining anatomy to be listed on the birth register without a "male" or "female" classification.
Experts estimate one in 1,500 to 2,000 births result in a baby of indeterminate gender or both male and female gender features.
Until now, in order to register their child with the authorities, parents could select to surgically allocate their child a "male" or "female" gender immediately following birth. The new law, which stems from a study by the German Ethics Council into intersexuality, will alleviate the pressures on new parents, providing an alternative to the medical procedure.
The study found that the rights of intersex individuals against irreversible medical interventions should be better protected. It also concluded that many adults are angry these surgeries were performed on them as infants, without their consent. The new law is welcome, but critics say still more needs to be done.
Lucie Veith, an intersex person from Hamburg told AFP news agency that the cosmetic genital surgeries for newborns must be forbidden altogether.
Veith said leaving the gender undefined on birth certificates was never the main lobbying point for her group, the German chapter of the Association of Intersexed People, or others in the intersex community.
Hamburg University’s Katina Schweizer told Euro News, “Intersexuality is not a disease. It is a variant of nature. There are forms that come with the need to treat the condition. But when it is about cosmetic surgery of the genitals then one should wait long enough until the persons can take their own decisions."
Under the new law, German passports will have a third designation of X, alongside M and F.