Approximately 1.7% of children worldwide are born with sex characteristics not in line with what are considered to be male and female norms. This is referred to as a ‘variation in sex characteristics’ or in certain cases as an intersex variation.
In Germany, these children are often operated on or subjected to hormone treatment to ‘normalise’ and assign them a clear male or female gender. These irreversible medical interventions can sometimes cause lasting physical and emotional harm, such as lifelong pain, loss of sexual sensitivity or serious mental health issues.
The medical procedures are often performed in non-emergency situations and without the very young children being able to decide for themselves. This violates their fundamental human rights to health, bodily integrity and self-determination.
In 2012 the German Ethics Council set out clear recommendations for action, but the topic has suffered setbacks for many years. Now there is finally a chance to prevent further suffering. The German Federal Government’s Coalition Agreement proposes unnecessary medical interventions on intersex children be banned unless to avert danger to life. However, it remains unclear when and how this law will come into effect.
We call on the German Federal Government and Members of the Bundestag to stop delaying.
Get involved in our campaign targeted at Germany’s Justice Minister Katarina Barley and Members of the Bundestag who have great influence over this issue. Send an email now, so intersex children can start enjoying better protection without further delay.
By participating, an email will be sent in your name to the German Federal Minister of Justice and Bundestag committee representatives and spokespersons for the areas of justice, family affairs, health and human rights, from whom we expect support for our demands.
Third gender identity
On 15 August 2018 the German Cabinet approved a draft bill to implement a ruling of the German Federal Constitutional Court on the ‘third gender’ option. The ruling was made in autumn 2017 and states that intersex people have the right to a positive designation of their sex. This decision is a huge success for the visibility and acceptance of intersex people; however, advocacy groups for intersex people are critical of the German Federal Ministry of the Interior’s draft bill not least because it fails to protect intersex children from harmful medical treatments, which would require a separate law.