Sexual orientation and gender identity
Sexual orientation and gender identity

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Sexual orientation and gender identity

4.3 A current issue: recognition as intersex

In W v W [2000] 3 FCR 748 the respondent viewed herself, and wanted others to view her, as female. However, not all people want to be viewed as either male or female. Some individuals with intersex conditions wish to be viewed as intersex. Should they be allowed to choose this designation? Should forms that require a person to register their sex provide for registration as intersex?

Listen to ‘Intersex [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] ’, which was broadcast on the BBC World Service Health Check (2013) programme.

The approach that should be adopted towards children who are born with intersex characteristics is problematic.

  • Should they have surgery so that they become, at least in terms of appearance, either male or female?
  • Should they be allowed to grow up as intersex and decide later whether to continue to be intersex or choose, as an adult, to have surgery so that they can present as either male or female?

Should the state recognise individuals as intersex? One country which now allows registration as intersex is Germany. If you want to know more about this German approach, see ‘Germany allows “indeterminate” gender at birth’ (BBC News, 2013b), which also notes five other countries that have given some recognition to intersex status, namely:

  • Nepal – census, since 2007
  • India – electoral roll, since 2009
  • Australia and Bangladesh – passport applications, since 2011
  • New Zealand – passport applications, since 2012.
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