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Germany's Parliament approves third gender option called 'Diverse'

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Country reportedly has 160,000 people of 'indeterminate' gender

Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Refinery29

Germany's Parliament has approved a third gender option on official government forms: "Diverse."

What does this mean?

The move follows a ruling by Germany's highest court last year that it is unconstitutional to force people to choose either male or female as their gender, the Daily Mail reported. Germans will also have the option of changing their gender if they believe it was incorrectly listed when they were born.

The change was proposed by Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition of conservatives and social democrats and then approved by Parliament.

There is an ongoing controversy over whether people who want to change their gender will need certification from a doctor. The changes approved Thursday will require medics to certify a person's "gender variations" before official documents are changed.

An activist group called "Third Option" backed the changes and called it a "major step with regard to visibility and legal equality," the Daily Mail reported. The group also called for eliminating the medical approval clause.

According to Third Option, the medical approval clause is contrary to the court ruling last year. The ruling stated that Germany has about 160,000 people "of indeterminate gender," according to the report.

Why is this happening?

The Federal Constitutional Court last year determined that people must be given the option to choose neither male nor female on official records. The court also ruled that a third identity must be created or gender identity should be completely eliminated, according to published reports.

The ruling resulted from a case in which a plaintiff unsuccessfully attempted to have an entry in Germany's birth register changed from "female" to "inter/diverse" or "diverse." Previously, the only other option was to leave gender blank.

As evidence, the plaintiff provided a genetic analysis that showed "one X chromosome but no second sex chromosome. Women have two X chromosomes, while men have one X and one Y chromosome," according to NBC news. The top court found that authorities could eliminate gender identity in civil registers or allow people in a similar situation to choose "another positive designation of their sex that is not male or female."

The cabinet's decision to add the third gender option "diverse" to the register required parliamentary approval before it could become official.

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