Germany is a step closer to allowing its citizens to legally identify as a third gender — instead of male or female — on official documents in which they will be designated as "diverse."
The measure was approved Wednesday in compliance with a November 2017 ruling from the Federal Constitutional Court which held that unless people had the option to select a third gender identity other than male or female, gender entries should be scrapped altogether, The Associated Press reports.
The court's decision came about as a result of a case in which a plaintiff who has a chromosomal abnormality attempted to alter the birth register from "female" to "inter/diverse" or "diverse." Until this week, the only option was to leave the gender designation blank. During the three-year legal battle the plaintiff presented a genetic analysis that she possessed one X chromosome but not a second X chromosome, as nearly all women have.
The cabinet's move will require approval by the German Parliament.
Franziska Giffey, the center-left minister for families in Germany's conservative-led coalition government, said the move is "an important step toward the legal recognition of people whose gender identity is neither male nor female."
Yet some think the change does not go far enough.
"Why should you produce a doctor's certificate to change your civil status?" asked opposition Green Party lawmakers Sven Lehmann and Monika Lazar in a joint statement.
"That must be a self-determined decision that is open to all."
Recent reports did not indicate if the German plaintiff had Turner syndrome but that is sometimes the case in females when one X chromosome is present and other is missing or partially missing, and the diagnosis is often delayed until the teen or young adult years, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Chromosomal abnormalities along with other intersex conditions and transgender identities — when someone declares he or she is the opposite sex — are not the same though they are routinely conflated in political discourse over gender issues.
In June, the Constitutional Court of Austria, Germany's southern neighbor, ruled that authorities must to allow citizens to be entered in official records as something other than male or female, if they so desire. However, the court also found no need to change the nation's existing law since it doesn't specify that people's gender must be male or female.
In parts of Canada and in a handful of U.S. states, this third gender designation has sometimes appeared as "X" nonbinary on legal documents such as birth certificates and driver's licenses for persons who identify as transgender or nonbinary.