The “third” sex

The German Ethics Council has condemned the treatment of intersexual people in the past and recommended compensation for the consequences of operations. The auxiliary bishop of Augsburg Dr. Anton Losinger is a member of the ethics council and explains in our site interview the background to the decision.

Interviewer: Intersex people are born that way. That is, this body is given to them. Is this "third gender" then according to the Christian doctrine of creation just as natural as man and woman??

Auxiliary Bishop Losinger: Now it is perfectly logical and clear both in theology and in the cultural history of mankind that there are only two sexes in the classical sense of the term. But we have to realize – and this is also new for many people in our country – that there is a small number of people for whom it is impossible to say with all the means of natural science, medicine, even genetic analysis, whether such a person is male or female. They are people of different structure. Science calls it DSD. An abbreviation meaning: Differences of Sexual Development. And the question of how to deal with these people was the driving force behind this statement "Intersexuality" of the German Ethics Council. The central question is how people who are in such an in-between can be met in such a way that they can receive respect and support from society. And that they can above all also be protected from medical aberrations and assaults.
Interviewer: And then the ethics council says that an operation violates the personal rights of these people?

Auxiliary Bishop Losinger: There is indeed a social development to note in the past time, where a so-called gender assignment was made. So there has been gender assignment in a child at a very early age through medical measures through surgery and also through hormonal treatments. And here, in part, a very unfortunate constellation may have arisen that is very hurtful, very problematic for these people. In this context, the German Ethics Council has considered whether a fund for compensation or compensation for pain and suffering would not be appropriate in this case.
Interviewer: The German Ethics Council proposes that there should then be a third category "other" in the civil status register in addition to male and female?

Auxiliary Bishop Losinger: In fact, this thought was purposeful for us. It is not generally the demand for a third gender, which de facto does not exist, but the question of how to deal with people whose gender cannot be determined even after medical and scientific approximation. Who are therefore neither male nor female, nor feel so.
And here, in fact, the suggestion is whether to seek an exemption for them from an entry to the binary gender context, or possibly an entry called "other". One can practically imagine what difficulties such a person would face. Alone when someone then comes to school, alone on which toilet he should go?
Interviewer: That's where it starts.

Auxiliary Bishop Losinger: And it goes on to the shaping of the entire lives of such people. we in the German Ethics Council have also taken note with concern of the descriptions of the people affected by DSD and have included these elements in such a statement, the aim of which is to recognize intersexual people, to support them and also to protect them from social discrimination.
The interview was conducted by Tommy Millhome.

The German Ethics Council has condemned the treatment of intersexual people in the past and recommended compensation for the consequences of surgery. Many of those affected are "deeply hurt" in their identity by earlier treatments that no longer correspond to the current state of medicine, according to a statement by the Ethics Council published on Thursday. In the case of intersexual people, the gender is not clearly defined. Often they are already born with male and female genitalia or hormones.

The independent Ethics Council, which advises the Bundestag and the government, has 26 members, including scientists, physicians, lawyers, philosophers and theologians. For future treatment, the panel recommends competence centers, care centers, and education and training for medical personnel. An ombudsperson is recommended for the enforcement of compensation claims. In addition, the statute of limitations for criminal or civil claims following surgeries that violated sexual self-determination should be extended until the person reaches 18 years of age. Respectively 21. The age of consent should be extended.

In their report, the experts urge a more restrained use of gender-assigning surgeries. Irreversible medical measures represent, among other things, an encroachment on the right of bodily integrity. The decision for or against an intervention should be made by the affected person himself. In the case of minors who are not yet capable of making decisions, operations should only be carried out if the child's well-being is in danger, it says.

The head of the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency, Christine Luders, welcomed the statement as "trend-setting and long overdue". She urged the legislature to quickly implement, among other things, a "help fund.

Luders particularly supported the Ethics Council's position on the obligation to specify a gender in the civil status register. "We need another entry here besides female and male," she said. The deputy chairwoman of the Left Party in the Bundestag, Barbara Holl, also called for recognition of intersexuals in civil status law and a ban on gender reassignment surgery in early childhood.

In its report, the Ethics Council problematizes the compulsion to choose a gender. The members propose the category "other" as a solution. The vast majority of experts also supported allowing people with this classification to have a life partnership. Minority of experts propose allowing intersex people to marry.

The current opinion is based on various studies, as well as online surveys and a hearing of affected individuals. In the report, the Ethics Council points out that there is no exact figure on the number of intersexuals in Germany. The federal government estimates their number at 8.000 to 10.000. The association of intersexual people, however, ames that 80.000 to 120.000 persons from.

The CSU state group in the Bundestag rejects the introduction of a "third gender". This is "not a good idea," said the parliamentary director Stefan Muller (CSU) on Friday in Berlin on inquiry. It was to be welcomed that the Ethics Council had pointed out the suffering of intersexuals with its statement. This would also ensure greater awareness in society, said Muller. A change in the civil status register with a new third category, however, would be "out of the question" for him.

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Christina Cherry
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