Wednesday, August 21, 2013

If You Thought Gay Marriage Caused Controversy. . . .

I think there's more to come and the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth will become more pronounced.

Starting this November, German parents will be able to select male, female, or “indeterminate” when filling out their newborn’s birth certificate. This means that parents won’t have to label their baby’s gender, thereby allowing those born with intersex characteristics to make a decision later in life. Or not.
The new law, which goes into effect on November 1, was passed back in May, but has only now started getting widespread attention — a mere six weeks after Australia became the first country in the world to introduce legal guidelines on gender recognition. Back in July, the country added “intersex” and other gender designations to official documents, like passports.
An intersex person is someone who has a variation in sex characteristics, including chromosomes and genitals that don’t allow them to be identified neatly as either male or female.
Germany apparently trails Sweden when it comes to recognizing this third gender. The Swedes have introduced a gender neutral personal pronoun:
And in an effort to work towards yet even greater levels of gender equality, Sweden now wants to do it through the channel of linguistic gender-neutrality. A good number of forward-looking Swedes have determined that government and society should no longer recognize any legal distinctions between the sexes. To that end, they have officially introduced the new gender-neutral pronoun, "hen," to the vernacular. To make it all the more official, they added it to the country's National Encylopedia and defined it as a "proposed gender-neutral personal pronoun instead of he [han in Swedish] and she [hon]."
I think it may be time to move to a small cabin in the woods with a big pile of books. When these changes are proposed in the United States, and make no mistake, they will be, I'm afraid the debates about marriage that now seem heated will suddenly appear as banal as dinner party small talk.

3 comments:

M Larson said...

Maybe the English language should adopt "eh" instead of using "he/she" and "hem" instead of him/her. :-)

HeidiM-L said...

I actually think it would be far less controversial. More babies than you'd think are born neither clearly girl nor boy. They were, clearly, "born this way." Because the genetic differences are visible on the outside, it would be far more difficult to argue a neutral gender as a moral failing or a reprehensible choice.

Kal Lis said...

Heidi,

Thanks for stopping by. I don't disagree that the numbers of "indeterminate" infants are greater than most think.

I do believe that many who hold that marriage ought only to be between a man and a woman will argue that there are only men and women. Further, the German laws allow one to go through life without declaring a gender. I doubt that those who believe "male and female created He them" will quietly accept one being "indeterminate" for life.

I hope I'm wrong.