When a baby is born, the first thing most of us ask is: boy or girl? But a new law could change all that! Parents who welcome a new baby into the world could have a third choice on the birth certificate: no gender at all.
Basically, parents can now opt out of picking a sex for their kid. It sounds like a big win for the transgender community. Finally! No more living between two genders! But what about parents? Talk about pressure!
The idea comes out of Germany, where officials reviewed cases of babies born with ambiguous genitalia. They reportedly found that in a majority of situations where parents opted for sex assignment surgery at a young age, the kids ended up unhappy as they aged. With the new law, the hope is that parents will forego those surgeries until kids are old enough to choose a gender on their own. The country is also changing passports to allow folks to list themselves as male, female, or intersex, although the expectation is that kids will eventually choose one of the traditional two sexes.
Happier kids is always a good thing. But let's talk about the reality of being a parent in the maternity ward, faced with a birth certificate ... and a decision.
Aside from the aforementioned ambiguous genitalia, how is a parent to know which gender their child will choose as they age?
Yes, MOST kids end up aligning with the gender their "born with," so to speak, but not all! We now know so much more about gender identity than we did even 10 years ago. We know that genitalia isn't everything. A transgender person may well be born with all the working parts of one gender but just never feel like it fits.
So what's a parent to do?
Not picking a sex almost sounds like the easier option here. Then you never have to worry about your kid turning around and saying, "Mom, you got it wrong!"
But then again, transgender folks still make up such a small portion of the population (in the US, for example, only .3 percent of adults identify as transgender) that going that route to avoid headaches could cause more down the road! Because eventually your girl or boy will identify as such, and it's back to the drawing board to get all the paperwork that signifies them as a boy or a girl.
Just having to go get a new Social Security card for my kid was headache enough. I can't imagine going through all of THAT.
I doff my cap to German officials for being open enough to the intricacies of human sexuality to try to give kids a better start at life, but the "no gender" option seems like it will just make parents' lives crazy instead of their kids'. I just wish there was a better way ...
Presented with this option, what would YOU choose for your baby?
Image via Pete/Flickr