German birth certificates will allow “blank” gender

its-aboy-its-a-girl-teddy-bearsGerman parents will be able to select not just male and female but “blank” on their children’s birth certificates, starting this November. Although both Australia and New Zealand offers citizens the option of selecting x for their gender on their passports, Germany is the first country that has introduced a law that adds a third gender option to birth certificates, which parents can choose if their child is born intersex. The Intersex Society of North America defines intersex as,”a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male… intersex isn’t a discreet or natural category… Intersex is a socially constructed category that reflects real biological variation.” Under the new German law, the child can choose male, female or leave it blank, later in life.

Silvan Agius, policy director at human rights organization ILGA Europe (the European chapter of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association) co-authored a report with the European Union [EU], finding that discrimination against trans and intersex people was still “rampant in all EU countries.”  He is frustrated by the lack of progress on trans rights in the European Union: “Things are moving slower than they should at the European level… Though Brussels [The European Union's unofficial headquarters] has ramped up efforts to promote awareness of trans and intersex discrimination, I would like to see things speed up.” But he is optimistic about the influence the German law will have: “Germany’s move will put more pressure on Brussels… That can only be a good thing.”


Born and raised on the mean streets of New York City’s Upper West Side, Katie Halper is a comic, writer, blogger, satirist and filmmaker based in New York. Katie graduated from The Dalton School (where she teaches history) and Wesleyan University (where she learned that labels are for jars.) A director of Living Liberally and co-founder/performer in Laughing Liberally, Katie has performed at Town Hall, Symphony Space, The Culture Project, D.C. Comedy Festival, all five Netroots Nations, and The Nation Magazine Cruise, where she made Howard Dean laugh! and has appeared with Lizz Winstead, Markos Moulitsas, The Yes Men, Cynthia Nixon and Jim Hightower. Her writing and videos have appeared in The New York Times, Comedy Central, The Nation Magazine, Gawker, Nerve, Jezebel, the Huffington Post, Alternet and Katie has been featured in/on NY Magazine, LA Times, In These Times, Gawker,Jezebel, MSNBC, Air America, GritTV, the Alan Colmes Show, Sirius radio (which hung up on her once) and the National Review, which called Katie “cute and some what brainy.” Katie co-produced Tim Robbins’s film Embedded, (Venice Film Festival, Sundance Channel); Estela Bravo’s Free to Fly (Havana Film Festival, LA Latino Film Festival); was outreach director for The Take, Naomi Klein/Avi Lewis documentary about Argentine workers (Toronto & Venice Film Festivals, Film Forum); co-directed New Yorkers Remember the Spanish Civil War, a video for Museum of the City of NY exhibit, and wrote/directed viral satiric videos including Jews/ Women/ Gays for McCain.

Katie is a writer, comedian, filmmaker, and New Yorker.

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