Germany has become the first country to allow parents to leave the gender box on their baby's birth certificate blank. A law allowing parents of babies born with characteristics of both sexes to opt out of assigning their child, went into effect Friday.
"If a child cannot be designated male or female, then they should be entered on the birth register without such a status," the law states.
This new German law was proposed to prevent children born without a clear anatomical sex, from undergoing "normalization" surgery, which gives them either male or female anatomical body parts, before the child is old enough to decide his or her gender.
"Normalization" surgeries have been condemned by human rights groups and the United Nations after anthropological and biological research done by Katrina Karkazis determined that the surgeries did more harm than good.
This law is significant due to the fact that it is the first law that officially acknowledges the existence of humans that are neither male nor female, law professor Konstanze Plett of Germany's University of Bremen told AFP.
"People who do not fit into the traditional legal categories ... will have fellow human beings with no sex registered," Plett said. "They can't be forced into either one of the traditional sexes in these other contexts."
The laws implication on marriage and civil unions has yet to be determined, especially since gay marriage has not been legalized in Germany.
The law will also allow amendments to official documents such as passports, which will now be allowed to use an "X" to designate third-gender individuals.
While many champion the new legislation, some activists say that the legislation "doesn't go far enough," Silvan Agius, policy director of equality for the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association in Europe, told Reuters.
"Unnecessary surgeries will likely continue in Germany with devastating consequences," Agius said. "We live in a world where having a baby classified as 'other' is still considered undesirable."
According to the Intersex Society of North America, one in every 1,500 babies in the U.S. is born without determinable gender genitalia.