People in Germany can now legally identify themselves as a third gender if they do not fit biologically as either male or female.
The third option, divers – which roughly translates to various or miscellaneous – is included on official documents as of today, January 1.
It means intersex people will be able to register themselves as ‘various’ on driving licenses, passports and birth certificates.
Until now, their only option was to leave the gender entry blank.
The German government voted to introduce the third category in August, with both chambers of parliament approving the new law.
Last month, the Bundesrat upper house gave their backing to the third gender option. The ruling will apply to babies born as intersex, with parents needing a doctor’s certificate to mark their child under the new category.
Adults registered as male or female will also need a medical certificate to change their gender marker.
The law change makes Germany the first EU country to allow parents to designate their intersex children as third gender.
But LGBT campaigners say the measure does not go far enough, as it requires a doctor’s certificate ‘proving’ a person is intersex.
They want new laws to make it easier for people who do not identify with the gender they were born with to change it on official documents.
Germany’s Association of Lesbians and Gays said: ‘If people feel seriously and sustainably not male or female, the law must allow them to legally register their status as they define it.’
It said lawmakers should make the third category open to any individuals who need it and want it without requiring medical statements.
Third Option – the campaign group that called for the change – said in a statement that the law ‘excludes many people who have been waiting’ for it, including trans people.
The introduction of the new category came after the Federal Constitutional Court called on lawmakers to enact legislation to either introduce a third category or dispense with gender altogether in official documents.
In some countries like Canada, India, Australia and New Zealand both those biologically intersex and those who identify as non-binary can choose to be legally recognised as such.
In others, like Austria and now also Germany, only those who are intersex can do so.
The ruling followed a court appeal brought by an intersex adult and said that courts and state authorities should no longer compel intersex people to choose between identifying as male or female.
Intersex people are born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that do not fit the typical definitions for male or female bodies.
This can mean being born with both male and female genitalia, or have both XX and XY chromosomes in their cells.
For some intersex people, their condition is discovered at birth, but for others it is not discovered until puberty or when the person faces fertility issues as an adult.