Germany is moving to a new birth certificate that could put pressure on the EU for a broader change among its member countries. The new certificate will allow parents to select a third option other than male or female. If the parents do not wish to leave gender up to their child, they can select “indeterminate” or “blank” for the gender. The new form is the result of a campaign to combat discrimination over gender changes.
Starting November 1st, German parents will be allowed to opt out of determining their baby’s gender. The law will allow those born with characteristics of both sexes to choose whether to become male or female in later life. However, many are arguing that the law should allow parents to opt out of the gender selection entirely.
There is also a move to allow people to use “X” rather than “F” for female and “M” for male on passports and government documents.
We have been following the decisions of an increasing number of young children to raise them as the opposite gender because they perceive a preference. Given the young age of some of these children, I have major qualms over such cases. As the father of four, I simply cannot believe that such a preference is so pronounced at 5 or 6 to justify a wholesale shift to another gender. Other cases include parents who insist on raising their children without a gender as with the Swedish family.
I have different concerns over the German birth certificate. These forms are meant for identification purposes and refer to the physical body of the child at birth. I have always strongly supported the rights of adults seeking gender changes, particularly in combatting discriminatory practices. However, the birth certificate records the gender at birth. It does not require that this individual remain that gender. For the vast majority of children, their physical gender will remain their chosen gender. I can certainly understand if a baby is one of a small percentage of births with both male and female organs. However, this law goes beyond such cases to allow parents to opt out of gender identification in order to leave it up to the child.
I confess that I am worried about telling kids that they will have to decide what gender they are as they are growing up. That is a lot to add to an already difficult development from toddler to child to teen to adult. There are differences produced by gender and it is often difficult to transition to a new gender both mentally and physically. I do not see the problem in assuming that a child’s gender will remain their gender for life, as is the case in the vast majority of people. Raising genderless kids like the case in Sweden or refusing to identify a child as a particular gender may have more to do with the parents than the kid. I may be simply someone stuck in the dark ages and I am willing to listen to the arguments on the other side. I certainly understand the legal and political issues surrounding such questions, but I fail to see how this is in the best interest of the child as a general matter.
What do you think?