Germany has just become the first European country to officially recognize a third gender. The German Federal Constitutional Court ruled that citizens must be able to identify as neither male nor female on official records.

The ruling came about after a case was brought by a person who had been registered as female, but who wished to be identified as inter/diverse or diverse. The person had undergone a chromosomal test that proved the person was biologically neither gender.

This can occur when a person is intersex, which is a term that describes a variety of conditions where a person is born with sexual anatomy that does not fit the traditional definitions. An intersex person frequently has chromosomal variations that differ from he typical XY male and XX female.

The constitutional court declared a window of just over a year where the government must determine a third gender category. A German government official said they did plan to comply.

Options for the third category include “inter”, “diverse”, or “various”. Another possibility is scraping the gender identification options all together.

Officials had originally rejected this case because current birth certificates legally only offer the options of selecting male, female, or leaving the gender blank.

Activists argued that this discriminated against intersex individuals, and was a violation of the claimant’s rights.

The court found that the law should protect all gender identities because it plays a key position in how people are viewed in the world. Those individuals who do not fit the definition of male or female should also be protected, and should not be discriminated against because of their gender.

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