Boy…girl.Girl…boy…Gi Joes and the color blue on one side… yet Barbies and the color pink on the on the other. But what everything in between? everything but the Binary? Everything most people don’t even have a clue about? This is where Germany comes into play. It was the first ever developed country to move away from the simple binary on gender. Meaning, people finally had the choice to leave the box for sex to be blank, rather, than opt for a life altering, irreversible surgery.
Gender Terms and Misconceptions
Well to fully understand this notion of what is a third gender, you have to understand the basics of what is gender, sex, and even intersex.
Sex = male and female
Gender = masculine and feminine
So in essence:
Sex refers to biological differences; chromosomes, hormonal profiles, internal and external sex organs.
Gender describes the characteristics that a society or culture delineates as masculine or feminine.
“Intersex” is a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male.
Not to be mistaken with Transgendered, who are people who have a gender identity, or gender expression, that differs from their assigned sex.
As you can see it may not be as rare as you might’ve assumed before.
Using the statistics from the Intersex Society of North America:
Not XX and not XY : one in 1,666 births
Total number of people receiving surgery to “normalize” genital appearance: one or two in 1,000 births
Total number of people whose bodies differ from standard male or female: one in 100 births
More often than not, you have come across someone who has struggled in this grey area of gender. Yes, these people are your coworkers, friends, family, and possibly even classmate sitting right beside you.
Backlash and Stigma:
Don’t you all remember waking up, during puberty, and looking down and thinking holy sh*t I have a penis… and boobs…. But I feel like a girl….
Sadly, this is the everyday thinking for someone who is born intersex but proceeded with a sex surgery … And now they’re stuck in this grey area of identity and confused about who they really are. Plus, people who live a nonbinary life have to face the sad reality of bullying, intolerance, not knowing where to check on a job application, and not being fully accepted as who they are in society.
The harsh stigma simply happens because it is easy to judge what we don’t truly know.
According to the Deutsche Welle report ” ‘Many people who were subjected to a ‘normalizing’ operation in their childhood have later felt it to have been a mutilation and would never have agreed to it as adults,”
What this German Law did, was give the individual, the one who would have to live with their body for the rest of their life, the ability to consent ( once old enough).
So what does it actually mean for us in the United States?
First of all, Germany has definitely set the precedent for us to follow. In fact, just in 2016, according to NPR, an Oregon resident was legally recognized as third Gender (legally nonbinary). Granted, the United States isn’t at its potential yet, and yes, there may be some who are still going to disagree, but I just wanted to leave you with this…
Time and time again, the United States has always taken steps to secure freedom for all, and with all the privileges that are granted to us on a daily basis…. We can all agree that it is a very big step forward, to give people a choice in how they wish to identify themselves.Just a simple third-option on an application or form will give this marginalized group their power back and even restoring their dignity as human beings.
However, one thing to remember, nothing is ever changed until someone is audacious enough to speak up. It could be anyone, and what is also really important is that we not only speak up but we make this part of our everyday conversations.