Austria now has a non-binary gender option

Alex Jürgen didn't want to be "female" or "male" in official papers. As a result, the Austrian Constitutional Court ruled that everyone has the right to an individual gender identity.

Christine Tragler
Christine Tragler Der Standard, Austria
Source: Der Standard
Austria now has a non-binary gender option - NewsMavens
Constitutional Court, Austria, Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

"Today, for the first time in my life, I have the feeling of being recognized for what I am, the way I was born." Alex Jürgen lives openly as an intersex person. Now, thanks to them, Austrians whose whose gender is not clearly male or female will  have the right to a corresponding entry in the system of civil registration.

Gender researcher Sabine Hark, who is interviewed in the article below, believes there are underlying social mechanisms that prevented this recognition from happening earlier:

"[Gender division] was necessary, for example, for a well-functioning division of labor: women provide 52% more unpaid work than men for children, households, carers and volunteers every day, so it made sense for a society to distinguish between women and men."

The true impact of the ruling of the Austrian Constitutional Court will probably be easier to recognize in retrospect. But for Sabine Hark, this is undoubtedly a watershed moment, because it marks the end of dual gender in Austrian law.

Details from the story:

  • When asked if they are male or female, citizens of Austria will soon be allowed to answer "neither" at the civil registry office.
  • Following in Germany's footsteps, the Austrian Constitutional Court ruled that the current civil status law violates Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects sexual identity and self-determination.
  • It will not be necessary to repeal the existing law, because it requires "respect for private and family life" and the Constitutional Court ruled that this implied a right to "individual gender identity".
  • The Constitutional Court proposes the terms "open", "inter" or "divers" for non-binary gender identities.
  • Similar regulations exist in Australia, New Zealand, Malta and India.

Project #Femfacts co-financed by European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology as part of the Pilot Project – Media Literacy For All

The information and views set out on this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Neither the European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.

NewsMavens is a media start-up within Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest liberal broadsheet published by Agora S.A. NewsMavens is currently financed by Gazeta Wyborcza and Google DNI Fund.
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