A Gender Neutral Citizen Has Been Legally Recognized In France In An Awesome Precedent-Setting Event
It's becoming more and more accepted and understood in Western societies that, despite the traditional Western view of gender as a binary, the reality is a little more complicated than that. Still, the law has been a little slower to catch on, which is why it's awesome that France has just recognized its first legally gender-neutral citizen. It's a great precedent, and one more countries should take note of — including the United States.
The case that brought about this change involves a 64-year-old French citizen, whose name has not been released. Although the citizen was assigned male at birth, their lawyer, Mila Petkova, noted, "My client was born with masculine and feminine genital organs." Throughout their life, the citizen never felt comfortable identifying as either male or female. The court finally recognized that an imposed male gender identity was thus unfair and inaccurate.
The magistrate in the case wrote, "The gender that was assigned at birth appears to be nothing but a fiction, forced on this person throughout their life." Accordingly, the individual was given the right to a gender-neutral legal identity, meaning they will no longer have to indicate themselves as male (or female) on government documents. They are the first person in France who is able to do so.
The case is an important landmark, though it doesn't immediately open the door to all gender nonconforming people in France. The court was careful to note they are not creating a new legal "third gender" category, merely recognizing that it is impossible to assign either a masculine or feminine gender identity to the individual in question in this particular case. The case will hopefully mean that other intersex individuals in similar predicaments will also be able to obtain similar rulings, but it doesn't necessarily help non-binary persons who are not intersex, at least not immediately.
Still, the case does set an important legal precedent regarding people who identify outside the gender binary. And that is unquestionably an important thing.
According to surveys, around a third of transgender or gender non-conforming people identify as non-binary in some form or other, which here in the United States means about 200,000 people are non-binary. Some of these individuals most likely also identify as intersex, but many also do not. Because the truth is that a person's gender identity is not dependent on their genitalia. People and our identities are more complicated than that, and it would be nice — to say the least — if the government would recognize that. Because forcing people to legally categorize themselves according to a binary that does not encompass their identity is backwards and cruel.