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One Country Won’t Allow a ‘Non-Binary’ Gender Option for Its Residents Anytime Soon

AP Photo/Markus Schreiber

This year, the Biden administration announced that it will allow passport holders to list their gender as “X” on their document rather than “male” or “female.” This option was unveiled for people who believe their “gender identity” does not align with their biological sex. Other countries have similar policies that allow residents to fill out documents based on their gender identity rather than their sex. But this week, it was made clear that one European country would not be following suit.

On Wednesday, the Swiss government rejected the idea of including a third gender option or no-gender option on official records, according to the Associated Press.

“The social preconditions for the introduction of a third gender or for a general waiver of the gender entry in the civil registry currently are not there,” the governing Federal Council wrote in response to two proposals from the Swiss parliament to implement a third gender or "no gender" option on records. 

“The binary gender model is still strongly anchored in Swiss society,” it added.

Reportedly, the Federal Council added that “numerous” changes would need to be made for more gender options. This would include changes to the country’s Constitution and laws at every level. 

AP noted that this differentiates Switzerland from its neighboring countries:

In 2018, the German government approved a third gender option for official records, allowing people to be registered as “diverse.” The law already allowed for gender to be left blank.

In doing so, Germany complied with a ruling the previous year from the country’s highest court, which decided that people must be allowed to be entered in records as neither male nor female.

Ruling on a case brought by an intersex person, judges ordered German authorities either to create a third identity or scrap gender entries altogether.

In Austria, a federal court ruled in 2018 that authorities must allow people to be entered in official records as something other than male or female, if they so wish. However, it found no need to change the country’s existing law since it didn’t specify explicitly that people’s gender must be male or female.

According to EuroNews, in Belgium, the government of Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced plans to introduce an "X" gender option to the country's identification documents. This announcement came after a court case in 2019 declared that non-binary people should have the option to have their official IDs reflect their gender identity. But, a draft law that was scheduled for 2022 would omit gender from ID documents altogether.

In May 2018, a Dutch court ruled that not allowing a non-binary gender designation in people's documents constituted a "violation of private life, self-determination and personal autonomy." This came after an intersex person sued because their documents did not allow an option other than "male" or "female."


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