German Babies Can Now Be Registered as Female, Male or Indeterminate

From NPR:

A German law takes effect today that establishes a third gender option for parents filling out birth certificates for newborn babies. They can choose “indeterminate” if the child shows both male and female characteristics. The parents will make that choice by leaving the boxes for male and female genders blank. The new law is meant to avoid the need to label an intersex baby as male or female before the child is old enough to decide.

The child could also opt to remain classified as intersex. German passports “will soon be allowed to have an ‘X’ in the gender field, according to a spokesman for the interior ministry,”Agence France-Presse says.

Although Germany is the first country in Europe to allow a third gender option (India, Nepal and Pakistan already do), the new law has already come under criticism for not going far enough; German advocacy groups are more concerned with the prevention of unnecessary surgeries on infants born with intersex characteristics, a population that comprises as many as 1 in 2000 births. (And, I’m down my second Wikipedia hole of the morning already: the sworn virgins of Albania, if participating in a blood feud, would have their deaths counted as a full male death rather than the half-death of a woman, which seems… fair??)

In other global gender news, here’s the BBC’s ranking of countries by gender gap: the best place to be a woman is still Scandinavia, but the inter-regional variance is fascinating to look at, and a few countries at the top of the list may surprise you. (For this link, I thank my mother and technical motherland, the former having texted it to me with the note “Look at the Philippines!”)

Where it is not great to be a woman right now, most saliently a lower-income woman: Texas, where the blockage of the admitting-privileges provision has just been overruled (by Judge Priscilla Owen, a Bush-appointed woman, supported by two other right-wing women) and a quarter of the state’s abortion clinics have already stopped operating, with more to come. One abortion provider in the state spent last Friday morning canceling 45 procedures.