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Is Germany doing newborns a favour or disservice with a third gender category?

Starting today, German parents will be able to mark an "X" to denote a third gender category for their newborns.

The BBC notes that the law, which was passed in August, represents a progressive step towards acknowledging babies born with both male and female attributes.

In Germany, this is presumed to affect one in every 2000 people.

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Reporting from Berlin, the BBC's Stephen Evans explains that previously there was no legal provision for people of indeterminate sex. Now, even German passports will include this third "X" designation in addition to M (male) and F (female).

Australia implemented a similar passport system in 2011 and New Zealand followed suit in 2012.

At the time, Kevin Rudd, Australia's foreign minister said in a statement, "This amendment makes life easier and significantly reduces the administrative burden for sex and gender diverse people who want a passport that reflects their gender and physical appearance."

But as Evans from the BBC points out, the law "may be solving one problem but it doesn't solve the whole difficulty."

Because even if the "mental anguish" lessens for these individuals, they still face challenges throughout their lives – from school sports to marriage.

The "X" designation comes across as a neutral solution; after all, both males and females have an "X" sex chromosome (females have a second, identical "X" whereas males also have a distinct "Y").

So far, the comments section on the BBC's story suggests a mix of ignorance and acceptance. One user who posts under the name Robbie made a particularly valid point: "It raises the issue of why does a sex need to be registered birth at all? In a perfect world, everyone would be treated the same way, and get the same opportunities…"

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But a perfect world would be too easy, wouldn't it?

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