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Austrian intersex person denied 'third gender' passport

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Austrian intersex person denied 'third gender' passport
Austrian passport. File photo: Thomas2006/Wikimedia
16:16 CEST+02:00
A court in Austria has ruled that an intersex person who applied to have ‘third gender' entered into his passport has to identify as either female or male.

Alex Jürgen (40) from Steyr in Upper Austria does not identify as either a man or a woman, and according to doctors was born with both male and female sex characteristics.

At birth Alex was registered as male, but other official documents list him/her as a woman. For the past ten years Alex has lived openly as an intersex person and went to court to ask if he/she could officially register as "inter", "different", "X", "undefined" or a similar term.

When Alex tried to change his/her birth certificate to state ‘intersex', the local council said that the computer programme only accepts ‘male' and ‘female', and so the process could not be completed.

Alex Jürgen's lawyer, Helmut Graupner, argued that Austrian law provides for a mandatory gender specification, but is not limited to male or female but the court rejected that argument - saying that Austria's legal systems assumes that every person is either male or female.

Intersex people vary in their chromosomal, hormonal and/or anatomical characteristics which do not match strict medical definitions of male or female.

Germany became the first European country in 2013 to allow babies with characteristics of both sexes to be registered as neither male nor female. Parents are allowed to leave the gender blank on birth certificates. This is to reduce the pressure on them to decide whether their babies should be given hormone treatments or operated on.

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