For two weeks now newborn babies in Germany have been exempted from gender registration. In other words, hospitals and parents are not obliged to declare the sex of the child, leaving the classic ‘M/F’ box blank. This is the second country in the world to officially recognize intersexuality after Australia, that even allows to mark one’s gender as ‘X’.
The reason for this revolution is a growing familiarity with the intersex phenomenon, which you can read more about in a former news post, and that can be summed up as the frequent (one in 1,500 births) case of indeterminate genital development. In these instances in which – for a number of reasons – a child is born of indefinite gender the common course of action has long been arbitrary surgical reassignment, a scarring procedure in more sense than one. Allowing the person to grow up without having to choose a gender, if any, until a clear sexual identity has formed is a sure step away from savagery. But is it enough?
As the initial excitement begins to give way to reasoned analysis, even some intersexuality activists are expressing sensible doubts. They all boil down to one simple fact: IDs may be evolving, but the rest of society is not. The entire legal corpus, in example, still references two genders only like all bureaucracy does. What kind of difficulties a “X” person will have to face confronting any one of the dozens of official documents everyone has to deal with in his life?
Also, our culture in general must radically change before an intersexual person can feel at ease. With some effort it is possible to imagine that innocent classmates can quickly adapt to a new, non-gender specific friend at school. But what about teachers, or the reactionary parents of other children, or the infrastructures in general? The world doesn’t have (yet) ‘X’ bathrooms, and many ordinary things like fashion, toys, shows and so on tend to be strongly gender-oriented, so that a neutral child would feel very alienated while growing up.
Since a civilization cannot be redesigned in one day, the challenges introduced by this progress are going to be severe for everyone involved. The future is going to be a very interesting place indeed.