Gender identity

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Handbook of Sexual Sciences from 1921 with early contributions on the subject

The gender identity includes gender-related aspects of human identity . In public and academic discourse, the term condenses various aspects of the experience of belonging to a gender . This involves the questions of which gender a person belongs to, whether he or she experiences and expresses this according to or different from their biological gender, and whether they are able to unfold the associated role in sexual and social situations unequivocally and successfully .

Gender identity is part of a person's self-experience and thus part of their identity, in which other roles that a person identifies also enter. It expresses itself “also in gender role behavior, i.e. in everything that someone does or doesn't do to show that he feels like a man, a woman, or 'somehow in between'.” Gender identity is “evolutionarily very young , specifically human, highly complex property ”.

According to the sexologist Sophinette Becker in a lecture that she gave to the guests of the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Frankfurt in December 2018, gender identity is “both the result of complex interactions between physical, emotional and social factors, as well as the result of tremendous psychological defenses - and integration services ". It is "just as little natural as it is exclusively the product of a free choice".

The term

According to Becker, identity is “a rather late emerging term that arose in connection with uncertainty about identity” and the term gender identity emerged when the terms man and woman “were no longer a matter of course”.

“The questions why and how someone becomes a woman / a man, what it means to be a woman / a man, whether, how and possibly why women and men think, feel and act differently are among the most exciting, but also the most controversial problems of human science research. "

- Hartmut Bosinski : Determinants of gender identity

There is no binding and generally recognized definition for the concept of gender identity, or even only recognized in the related sciences, on which one would have agreed. This leads to uncertainties about the meaning of this term if it is not explained in the respective context. In addition, other terms, such as identity gender , gender role identity or sexual identity are used as synonyms , usually without clarifying whether the same or sufficiently similar is actually meant. In this respect, psychology , sociology and sexology, as central reference sciences, often do not differentiate . In the media use of the terms, there is usually even less differentiation. Occasionally, attention is drawn to what is taken for granted: "In science it is [...] necessary to get clarity about the terms used".

The sexologist Bosinski blames a lack of distinction between “gender-specific” and “gender-typical” characteristics for the conceptual uncertainties and pays special attention to their description in the analysis of numerous research results. To the “gender-specific” characteristics he counts the “determination of the genetic sex”, but also those of the “sex of the gonads”, the “internal genital structures” and the “external genital configuration”. In contrast to this, he deals with “gender-typical” characteristics, for example, with “body height” - “On average (typically) men in all cultures are about 8-10 cm taller than women” - with intelligence - albeit for individual factors , so for the “total intelligence no gender differences” could be found - and with the aggressiveness - “men show on average more unprovoked (!) mutually damaging behavior than women”. Deviations from the gender-specific characteristics are considered to be pathological, while deviations in the gender-typical differences are “not sick, but the rule”.

Eberhard Schorsch and others proposed a definition of sexual identity as early as 1985 in a summary by Robert Stoller . It is then recommended to understand it as an umbrella term under which three different facts are subsumed: the so-called core gender as an elementary awareness of gender, the gender role in the sense of social potency in this role and sex in the narrower sense, but also in the sense of trust in fullness and potency.

Since then, there have been numerous rededications of each of these terms, which, however, have contributed to increasing confusion rather than clarification. In 2006 the so-called Yogyakarta Principles were negotiated in the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta , which represent an attempt at a unified definition. They were first published in German in 2008 by the Hirschfeld Eddy Foundation, which has now been established .

“By 'gender identity' one understands the deeply felt inner and personal feeling of belonging to a gender that matches or does not match the gender that the person concerned was at birth; this includes the perception of one's own body (including the voluntary change in the external physical appearance or functions of the body through medical, surgical or other interventions) as well as other expressions of gender, e.g. B. through clothing, language and behavior. "

- Hirschfeld Eddy Foundation : The Yogyakarta Principles

Development of gender identity

Bosinski assumed that “the development of gender identity is determined by a highly complex, time-dependent biopsychosocial set of conditions”. At least since Simone de Beauvoir and her book The Other Sex , which was published in 1949, an ongoing controversy has developed over gender identity and the question of whether it is primarily constituted “or even exclusively” through biological conditions, the effects of socialization or the effect of psychogenic factors. Bosinski thinks that it “appears as if there is now another 'swing of the discourse pendulum'”. Although this is also induced by scientific findings, it is significantly influenced by the “ zeitgeist ”. However, it could not only distance itself from current scientific results, but also be in complete contradiction to them.

Psychoanalytic theory has contributed a lot to the question of how gender identity is formed in individual development. According to Jessica Benjamin , sexual development runs from autoerotism to narcissism to genital love. She detailed four phases in the development of gender identity.

During the first 1 ½ years of life, “the core of the gender identity develops”. This is a "merely felt conviction to be male or female". This later becomes the “conviction that one or the other group belongs”. That is what the term gender means.

In the second half of the second year of life, early differentiation begins the next phase in the development of gender identity “on the level of identification”. In 1983, Person and Oversy described this phenomenon as “as a distinction from the core gender identity” with the term gender role identity , because the focus is on male and female self-images . This is a “psychological achievement” that is “acquired by separation and individuation ” in conflict . The child begins to consciously differentiate both parents and also in terms of gender. In what Benjamin calls a traditional gender arrangement, mother ideally represents “holding, bonding and care”; father represents “outside world, exploration and freedom”. The child's experience is not yet about a triad , i.e. father-mother-child, but still a dyad, i.e. father-child or mother-child. Something like “identifying love” arises here.

At the age of 2 to 3½ years the child's ability to love is still strongly colored narcissistic . If the boy wanted to be like mother and girl like father during this time, it was neither an expression of rejection of his own gender nor a reaction to conflicts - Freud mentioned threats of castration as a central conflict during the child's psychosexual development, for example . Instead, it's about love and admiration for the opposite sex. Children would now begin to assimilate the "repertoire of gestures and behavior that culture holds for the expression of masculinity and femininity ". However, the children were still trying to “realize both options in themselves”. Towards the end of this development phase, the conflict “between desire and anatomical reality” only slowly penetrated consciousness. "This phase is [...] characterized by constant protest against the increasingly clear perception of gender differences ". But both would - still - want to be everything and protested against the "gender-specific boundaries". Referring to Sigmund Freud , older psychoanalytic concepts, which have since been largely abandoned, assumed that boys would envy childbearing at this stage of development and girls would envy the penis . Karen Horney was the first to oppose Freud's theoretical constructs in 1922 .

Towards the end of the fourth year of life, the phase of "actual gender differentiation" begins. In doing so, “the complementary opposites are assigned to the self and the other”. In this phase, the identifying love for - "usually, but not necessarily" - parent of the opposite sex is given up. This often leads to rivalry and “contemptuous rejection of the opposite sex” or to love and longing for the lost other. In this phase a “chauvinistic insistence on one's own gender” - “everyone must be just like me” - can be observed. Same-sex identification is now supported by others than the parent figures and also by peers. Ideally , one's own limits would now be recognized and what is different in the other would be loved. That means having arrived at “identification and object love”. In particular, love that is directed towards the other presupposes tolerance of tension and that must have developed so that this development step can succeed. The less the child gets stuck in “rigid, complementary role models”, the more likely, as Benjamin says, a relaxed “familiarity with peculiarities of the opposite sex” can arise.

Once this individual development process has been completed, children would initially have “highly stereotyped judgments about what boys can do and what girls cannot do and vice versa”, although this is “subject to socio-cultural fluctuations”. As a result, it is “a developmental task of the child to learn to behave in accordance with the average expectations of belonging to the male or female gender”. According to Bosinski in 2000, "in modern industrial cultures [...] the boundaries between being a man and being a woman are no longer as cemented as they were 30 years ago."

For the “process of developing a gender identity that is 'contrary to upbringing'”, Bosinski has suggested that they “start from a non-identification with the gender suggested by the upbringing or a“ feeling of well-being ”in the role of the opposite sex Rejection of the physical aspects of the gender they brought up and the realization of a sexual orientation that is 'inappropriate' for this role up to an escape from the upbringing into the opposite gender, which is perceived as 'more coherent' inwardly ”. In this process, as in the development of a gender identity that is “upbringing”, “biological, inner-psychological and socio-cultural factors” are involved, which begin to unfold their effect “in early childhood” and “only come to a relative conclusion after puberty” . In this context, “culture and nature” on the one hand and “disposition and education” on the other hand would by no means be “mutually exclusive, but rather necessarily complementary and conditional mechanisms”. Assessments, however, “do not depend on findings of any kind, but are political and moral decisions”.

For the development of gender identity in cultures other than western cultures, it is important - not in every respect, but in certain characteristics - to take into account separate aspects. The psychoanalyst Mahrokh Charlier, for example, has published on developments in “patriarchal-Islamic societies”.

Attempts to deal with the developmental psychology of gender identity are faced with extensive specialist literature in the various scientific disciplines involved: "The formation of gender identity, gender role behavior and ideas have for years been the subject of a barely manageable wealth of studies and publications in social psychology , the differential psychology , empirical developmental psychology, etc. this appear every year about 600 new works alone in the psychological literature. "For guidance Bosinski suggests some" survey work "before.

Binary gender identity

The term binary gender identity has become established for those cases in which only women and men are brought into focus as gender groups. Even if gender diversity has now taken up a large part of the public debate (compare the new gender optiondiverse ”), people who have unequivocally identified with one of these two sexes still belong, with rare exceptions, anywhere in the world the two largest gender groups. Non-binary gender identities make up around 1 to 2% of the population in Germany, even if the contemporary preponderance of media and now also scientific attention for the so-called “ third gender ” sometimes gives a different impression (compare intersexuality , transgender ). It should be noted that numbers are rarely given and when they are, they differ “depending on the definition limitation and the population examined”.

The impression that people's sexual orientation towards homosexuality or bisexuality has increased to an extent that is beginning to displace heterosexuality is also deceptive. Bosinski countered this impression decisively and with scientific means: “Rather, approx. 90 to 95% predominantly to exclusively heterosexual [...] men compared with approx. 5 to 8% more or less exclusively homosexual oriented men [...]. The number of bisexually oriented [...] is always below the latter. ”It is also clear that“ there is no known culture in which the greater average sexual-erotic attraction of men by women and of women by men is canceled or vice versa ” .

Ethnographic studies have shown "despite the sometimes considerable intercultural variance" a "series of cross-cultural universals", and the "reports by Magaret Mead (1979) about the allegedly total cultural relativity of gender roles, which were received with great enthusiasm at the time, are now considered refuted" .

Bosinski recommends not to give up the category of binary gender identity , especially with regard to child development: "The categories 'man and woman', 'boy and girl' have a compass function in the appropriation of the world, similar to other child judgment categories (e .g . ,Good and evil')."

As an advocate of the recognition of gender diversity, the sexologist Volkmar Sigusch recommends not to lose sight of one aspect of sexual diversity , he calls it the "solid core of sexuality and gender".

“The sexogeneric core is solid because, for example, no 'organic man' will ever experience and understand what the onset of menstruation and breasts, what is the blood filling of the atrial erectile tissue, the enlargement of the clitoris and the contractions in the abdomen, what pregnancy and childbirth and breastfeeding, or what the natural loss of fertility at an age that is by no means considered high today - what all of that really means. These events inextricably linked to the gender of the body are reflected in the body and soul, and not least from these precipitations emerges what we have been calling sexuality and gender identity for some time. "

- Volkmar Sigusch : Sexual worlds

Gender diversity

In Germany at least in the “big cities [...] there is now a dazzling scene of members of both sexes” who have developed a gender identity beyond the binary and have provided different names for it. They define themselves “beyond conventional role ascriptions, without it being a matter of disease-related (transsexual) gender identity disorders”.

Despite clear numerical ratios, which people who have identified themselves with their biological gender as the rule, a gender experience "in between" has received so broad media and consequently scientific attention that the impression of numerical excess weight can erroneously arise. How this increase in meaning, which can no longer be ignored in the public debate, has not yet been researched, as has the question of why men are significantly more likely than women to disagree with their gender.

In 2012, the Federal Agency for Civic Education (bpb) took on the topic. In her editorial , Anne Seibring laments the outsider position that people who are different from everyone else get into and draws attention to the consequences that are not always well known: “For a long time, medicine was based on the now highly controversial assumption that a stable gender identity can be achieved intersex newborns can be reached through operative gender assignment (sometimes without the knowledge of the parents) and through education in the assigned gender. Many of those affected, most of whom - if at all - only found out about it in adulthood, are deeply traumatized . For them, as well as for those who have been spared from operations, as well as for people with trans identities, there is also the fact that they live in a society whose binary gender order leaves little room for 'other things'. "

Nine articles have been written by representatives of various scientific disciplines for the main topic of the Federal Central Office, which deal with a wealth of relevant and further literature. With their different focal points, they give an overview of the current state of the scientific discussion at the time. In addition to an essay by Laura Adamietz on the legal situation in Germany, Carolin Küppers dealt with the sociological dimension of gender. Eckart Voland devoted himself together with Johannes Johow to the sociobiological aspects. Hertha Richter-Appelt, one of the chairmen of the German Society for Sex Research and Professor of Sexology at Hamburg University, dealt with gender identity and gender dysphoria . Ulrike Klöppel wrote about the medicalization of ambiguous genders and Michael Wunder focused on intersexuality under the title Life between the genders . Rainer Herr viewed transvestism and transsexuality historically and addressed the embodiment of the opposite sex in his title . Susanne Schröter rounded off the topic with her ethnological perspective, as did Arn Sauer and Jana Mittag, who dared to take a look at the international context of gender identity and human rights .

Sociological Aspects

According to Carolin Küppers, there is a “ common sense of bisexuality in our society”, which “leaves little room for gendered ways of existence beyond the binary categories” and has “an astonishing potential for perseverance”. It goes hand in hand with a "social positioning of men and women".

After the debate on the concept of gender identity had long been expanded to include the sociological dimension, Küppers devoted himself to a summarizing view in 2012. "The division into two clearly distinguishable genders [...] appears to be a 'natural' and self-evident fact, but is much more complex from a sociological perspective." From a scientific point of view, too, according to Küppers, it is "more than ambiguous" what exactly marks the gender differences. The stereotype of the binary gender distribution is losing importance, but it is "still present everywhere".  The question arises - based on Paula-Irene Villa - "how a relatively small anatomical difference can have such great social consequences":

“In the 1960s, Anglo-American feminists reacted to the tendency to reduce the differentiation into two sexes to biological differences by distinguishing between sex and gender. The term sex is usually translated as 'biological sex' and is anatomically defined. The term gender is mostly used in the meaning of 'social gender' and aims at the social construction of gender-specific roles and attributes. The separation of sex and gender has brought enormous advantages in order to be able to argue against a claim to sole explanation of the gender distinction through biological determination. She exposed gender as a social construct and revealed that dichotomous gender ascriptions, gender roles and hierarchies have historically emerged and come about through social structuring, negotiation and attribution of meaning. "

- Carolin Küppers : Sociological dimensions of gender

However, Küppers continues, in the “current gender sociology” the distinction between sex and gender is “rarely used” because it “quickly turned out to be too undifferentiated and therefore a disadvantage”. According to Kerrin Christiansen , gender is to be understood as "a continuum rather than two clearly distinguishable poles". In this context, the biologist Sigrid Schmitz relativized the common belief that the natural sciences are more objective than the social sciences : “Natural science is not more objective than other sciences just because it reproduces its findings in a quantitative, experimental design. Because this design is also guided by certain theoretical assumptions, which influence the selection of the data, their inclusions and omissions and the interpretation of the findings. "

“The gender order” is a “powerful, domination-saturated social reality” that constructs “normality” and the “compulsion” to “submit to this norm”. Since man became aware of his own physicality, it has always been the same everywhere, albeit differently. Gender is "part of social body knowledge and the norms of the gender dichotomy," said Küppers. With the help of language people would interpret the world and thus also gender, but their “view of the world” would be “limited by a historical, specific glasses”. And because the discourse on gender defines what is to be considered “normal”, “what counts as 'different' is also constructed”.

After Simone de Beauvoir had already dealt with the question of what makes a woman into a woman in 1949, women's research began in the 1970s to develop the concept of gender-specific socialization under the postulate that the private is political . Since then, the "gender-theoretical discourse [...] has been closely linked to the political perspective of the women's movement " and the question of "social power relations [...]". As part of their socialization , people “learn what it means to be a woman or a man against the respective social background” and what is expected of them in these roles. With the assignment to a gender "specific perceptions, attributions, hierarchies and assumptions are connected" which influence the "social interaction ". "Since the 1990s", according to Küppers, "the idea of ​​a clear and stable gender identity [...] has been questioned". Carol Hagemann-White proposed "a departure from the socialization paradigm" and the assumption of a "bisexuality" and instead referred to "different cultural constructions of gender".

“Gender is not something we have, especially not what we are. Gender is something we do. "Küppers describes how this" thesis [...] found its way into the social science discussion under the catchphrase of doing gender ". Theories of action served to provide insight into the processes with which people “acquire norms, rules and structures and pass them on in action” - in this context related to the question of how women and men express their gender: “Doing gender works in other words, about everyday behavior as well as everyday perception . "Social interaction is always preceded by an assignment of the other person to a gender:" Once the assignment has been made, the respective details of the interaction are classified and the correct genitals become, as they are not visible are, subordinated. ”If someone cannot be assigned to a gender,“ we get serious practical problems ”. However, gender norms could be increasingly questioned, which opens up “the scope for non-normative, gendered modes of existence”.

Sociobiological Aspects

“Large-scale meta-studies” also provide “only little evidence of gender differences in behavior” between men and women. Eckart Voland and Johannes Johow connect this finding with the fact, which they consider regrettable, that these studies abstained from the “ Socratic recommendation” to “break up nature into its grown parts” ”. However, if “the 'grown parts' were identified”, one would “arrive at a different result”. Then "differences [...] could be described in a statistically robust manner" and the "shadow of our evolutionary past, especially in a modern age striving for emancipation [to] illuminate".

Sociobiology is a "milieu theory of human behavior [...] on a genetic basis". In their sociobiological considerations of gender identity, Voland and Johow consider the “division into 'male' and 'female'” with reference to evolutionary history to be fundamentally justified. They want to "try to differentiate between the sexes [...] in order to discover, despite all the similarities between men and women, perhaps some differences that are significant as a result of biological adaptation processes".

"In order to show that the division into 'female' and 'male' - far removed from the sometimes hair-raising popular scientific 'processing' of scientific findings - is actually justified, it is worth taking a short digression into the natural history of sexuality."

- Voland & Johow : Gender and gender role: sociobiological aspects

The authors refer to Lise Eliot , among others , who dealt with the Trouble with Sex Differences in 2011 . Since Darwin , "human nature can no longer be excluded from the common history of all living beings". All of them, and thus also people, are geared towards the "best possible reproduction": "The behavior-controlling machinery of our brain produces biologically useful representations of the world and emotions that - avoiding risks and taking advantage of opportunities - guide us through life, comparable to a navigation system."

Reproduction and sexuality are "two completely different processes" - reproduction on the one hand and the "exchange of genetic information" on the other - which originally took place independently of one another and which only later became "evolutionarily linked". This has brought about "reproduction through sex" in almost all vertebrates .

"While the female side is more characterized by risk aversion, higher standards in terms of partner choice and less variable developmental processes, the male side can be described more with attributes such as sexual opportunism, sexual and social willingness to take risks, broader phenotypic diversification, also in mental aspects of life."

- Voland & Johow : Gender and gender role: sociobiological aspects

It “takes getting used to”, according to the authors, “to imagine the genome as a battlefield for genetic conflicts between male and female genes [...]”, but at the same time “very illuminating”. Richard Dawkins had dealt with this extensively in his book The Selfish Gene . Voland and Johow are convinced that an "evolutionary peace agreement in the eternal 'war of the sexes' [...] is unthinkable from a sociobiological point of view". It is always a matter of "very fragile compromises of a profound conflict of interest that neither side can finally win". Seen in this way, gender difference is "an integral part of human nature". It is as if culture were playing with this difference, "but contrary to a widespread misunderstanding, cultures do not construct this difference."

Mutations or damage to individual genes would result in possible deviations, which, however, are "relatively rare within the human population, with two percent of all births". Children who cannot be assigned to a gender after birth are considered intersexual and account for “less than 0.2 percent of all births”, said Leonart Sax in his answer to Anne Fausto-Sterling . Beyond these rare peculiarities, sexual development is exposed to other influences, including hormonal status . It is controlled by a wide variety of factors. It can be stated that "an extremely complex development path from the sex chromosome to the gender identity" runs. In this respect, gender is “not such a clear category”, as is often assumed.

Genetic predispositions as well as environmental factors are generally held responsible for the ability of both sexes to develop diverse “behavioral strategies”. Both could "not be viewed independently of one another". "There is hardly any other topic in which the investment-environment debate is as passionate as it is inconclusive in the wider public as in the area of ​​sex and gender". In doing so, “the core of the debate is largely resolved in theory,” as Voland and Johow state based on Adolf Heschl . Nevertheless, “'cultureists' and 'biologists' would irreconcilably clash” because “it is not well understood” that “plant and environment are not additive”, but “ synergistic ”. Depending on the environmental conditions in human experience and behavior, the “building plans written down in the genes” produce strategies which in turn influence the environment. “Often” it is overlooked, however, “that the 'reaction norm' of the organism to different environmental factors is laid down in the biological information carriers”. That is why the “environment cannot, as it were, construct the developing organism 'according to its own rules'”. In this “matter” the “last word” has the “genetic information”.

Legal aspects

After the Federal Government had commissioned the German Ethics Council to deal with the topic of intersexuality , recommendations were made on February 23, 2012. According to this, "the category 'other' in civil status law should be provided for people of ambiguous gender." In 2011, the Federal Constitutional Court declared some "provisions of the Transsexual Act to be unconstitutional" and, among other things, changed the entry in the civil status register "even without physical, operational" Alignment 'allowed'. The Civil Status Act was changed with effect from November 1, 2013. Although the law still does not allow an entry for intersexuality, if a clear allocation to one of the two intended genders is not possible, a corresponding entry in the birth register can be omitted.

Laura Adamietz evaluates a number of academic publications for her article entitled Gender Identity in German Law , some of which also come from other disciplines than law . It should be noted that some of your statements from 2012 are outdated by the amendment to the Civil Status Act in 2013. Adamietz sees the new developments on this topic as a “challenge for the legal system”. In Germany it is subject to "legal regulation" as in other countries, "whether and how gender identity may be lived out". Nevertheless, "neither gender nor gender identity [...] is defined by law". "Legislation" would be tied to "gender" less and less often, and if so, then generally in connection with the prohibition of discrimination and specifically in two cases:

"When deciding whether two people (because of the different or same-sex relationship) can marry or 'partner', and in Article 12a of the  Basic Law (conscription only for men)."

- Laura Adamietz : Gender identity in German law

However, "the right to the importance of the question", "who actually has which gender", for the entries in the passport, birth certificate and birth register. However, it does not explain "what gender is, nor how to determine gender". Adamietz recommends speaking of gender identity “in the German legal discourse” when actually the individual sense of gender affiliation is actually meant and not (also) sexual orientation ”. That corresponds "also to the parlance of the BVerfG ".

Despite all the discrimination experienced by those affected, the "protection of gender identity" is "not regulated in anti-discrimination law ", "but rather negotiated on the occasion of the question of the legal recognition of this" deviating "gender identity". According to Adamietz, one should bear in mind "that one is bound to the gender that was assigned to one at birth". One could “not change this 'legal gender' easily […]”, although the “gender identity of a person […] at his birth […] cannot be recognized”, since it only develops “in the course of his life”. The “two main application cases of a right to (undisturbed living out of) gender identity” would be “distinguished according to whether they are based on an innate physical characteristic or not”.

The "scene of the struggle for recognition of trans identities" is the Transsexual Act (TSG) and it is "like every law a child of its time". The terms used there correspond to the “linguistic usage of the time of origin (1980)” and indicate that “the TSG was based on the then thoroughly contemporary concept of 'transsexuality'”. It was "based on a (pathologizing) conception of trans identity as a mental disorder" that was linked to some "key symptoms". In the meantime, “sex research has revised this diagnosis” and new terms have been established. There were also "revisions of the TSG by the BVerfG", which up until 2012 had dealt with "issues of trans identity" eight times.

Nevertheless, “there is still a lot to do”. Adamietz believes that “temporary gender changes should be part of a possible and recognizable trans identity”, but “the TSG with its current requirement of permanence does not offer any space”. It is true that changes can be made “as easily as never before”, but “legal gender change is still not easy”. "A lengthy and costly procedure" is still imposed on those affected. She also fears “that the already problematic expert practice” could intensify, but at the same time expresses her hope “that the TSG will be cleared of further discriminatory but not yet challenged regulations in an overall revision”.

In a separate section, Adamietz deals in detail with the legal regulations on the subject of intersexuality . Here, too, it is "about the recognition of a gender that deviates from the norm". With the introduction of the German Civil Code (BGB), the term “hermaphrodite” disappeared from the “German legal system”, but “the entry of neither male nor female gender in the birth register, birth certificate and passport [...] has not yet occurred not reached ”. However, due to the “public attention”, the Bundestag, state parliaments and “most recently the German Ethics Council on behalf of the Federal Government” are dealing with this issue - yet without any legislative “initiative”. That is why Adamietz hopes that the BVerfG will "pave the way" here too. “According to current law”, “the gender of a person must be registered” and a “binary coded gender” must be entered in the birth register. There is also a “need for regulation” because “children with ambiguous genitals are still operated on” “before they have been able to consent”. According to Adamietz, the Federal Constitutional Court, with its "eighth decision on transidentity [...] radically deconstructed and denaturalized the legal category 'gender' by denying it the need for a physical basis".

As Adamietz summarizes, the legal-political discussion deals with “the regulation of criminal, medical and custody law” in the context of a variety of case structures. "The call for the possibility" of a gender entry is loud, "which is defined as neither male nor female". This is intended to give “legal recognition” to “intersex identifications”. Adamietz considers a “utopia to dispense with gender assignment and gender recording” as “more promising” and asks: “Why does the law need 'gender'?”

Sexological aspects

“Gender identity is addressed when uncertainty arises”. The psychoanalyst and sexologist Hertha Richter-Appelt uses this simple formula in her article Gender Identity and Dysphoria to bring the public discussion on the subject to life . Uncertainty can arise if, for example, infertility raises questions, body and body experience do not match, or irritations arise because the body cannot be clearly identified as male or female.

Richter-Appelt also mentions that in the second half of the 20th century a "binary concept of gender [...] determined thinking". The aim of medical and psychological work was "a stable male or female gender identity". "Terms of psychosexual development", such as binary or gender identity, were neither "defined", "questioned" and "used inconsistently".

Since not much has changed in the inconsistent use of the terms, Richter-Appelt suggests the following definitions:

  • gender-typical behavior : “behavior frequently observed in one gender”.
  • Gender-specific behavior : occurs "only in one gender" (e.g. breastfeeding a child)
  • Gender role : "The entirety of the culturally expected, considered and assigned skills, interests, attitudes and behaviors of the respective gender". All of this is subject to “a change within and between cultures”.
  • Gender identity : "the subjective feeling of a person to experience himself as a man or woman (or in between)". Such a feeling can be found “at all times and in all cultures”.
  • Gender role identity : "the public manifestation of the gender identity of a particular person in a particular role behavior". This summarizes “everything that a person says or does”, what is supposed to show whether and to what extent someone “feels that they belong to which gender”.
  • Sexual identity : “the subjective experience of a person as hetero-, homo-, bi- or asexual”.
  • Sexual preference : “describes what sexually arouses a person”.
  • Sexual orientation : concerns “partner choice”. Mostly it agrees "with the sexual identity."

Richter-Appelt deals in detail with inter- and transsexuality . The term intersex “encompasses a number of different phenomena in which the sex-determining and -differentiating characteristics of the body (chromosomes, genes, gonads, hormones, external genital organs and sexual characteristics) do not all correspond to the same sex.” The author has also discussed this separately released. With the “different forms of intersexuality”, the “prediction of gender identity” represents a “special problem”. Persons with intersexuality are “often not clear in their gender experience” and therefore do not express any unambiguity. Intersexuality is understood as a "disorder of gender development", which is criticized by "those affected [...]". These people were "often assigned a gender (gender allocation) and physically matched (sex assignment) already in early childhood" - in the "hope of ensuring the development of an undisturbed gender identity corresponding to the adapted gender".

There is disagreement about the question of when to speak of transsexuality . According to Richter-Appelt, people with transsexuality would “generally want to adapt the healthy male or female body to the subjectively experienced gender more or less”. "Since gender reassignment operations are no longer a necessary prerequisite for a change in civil status, a clear decline or a delayed attempt at genital surgery can be observed, especially in older people." The term transsexuality is "criticized" because it is not about sexuality, but about identity go and so people often talk about trans identity or transgender . “In the international medical classification system” (ICD) there is talk of “a disorder of gender identity”. A so-called gender dysphoria (see dysphoria and gender identity disorder ) would have inter- or transsexuals who suffer from "irritation of the subjective sex experience", which is not the case for all.

Regarding the development of gender identity as an aspect of “experiencing identity” - that is, the question “Who am I?” - Richter-Appelt recalls numerous influencing factors that are involved in its formation: “physical-biological factors” as well as “psychological and social conditions ", But also" hormones as a consequence of genetic and epigenetic predispositions "as well as" parenting measures and identifications and self-categorization of the child. "In addition, there are" cultural norms and gender role expectations ".

Medical and psychological action in the middle of the 20th century was criticized harshly in later years. In addition, Richter-Appelt reminds us “how much people with either an ambiguous gender, but also those people who perceived the body as not corresponding to their gender, suffered as a result.” Doctors and psychologists “pursued the goal of alleviating this suffering. “The concepts of this time were“ based on a binary understanding of gender ”to which“ therapists, endocrinologists and surgeons ”as well as psychoanalysts were subject. "Experience over the past few years", as Richter-Appelt notes, "taught us better." The psychoanalysis of the 21st century is about "a multifactorial determination of the experience of identity, which can turn out to be much more diverse than exclusively male or female."

For the development of gender identity, it is now assumed “that in many cases it is experienced largely without conflict”. In other cases "at different points in time of development [...] a questioning, a dysphoria could occur". Irritations could be "influenced by biological factors that are so far only little known, such as genetic and hormonal processes, by experience in dealing with the body, by self and external categorizations and developmental conflicts, but above all by relationship experiences."

“A central issue in the psychoanalytic examination of the development of gender identity is the question of how relationships are formed. Already in childhood the basis is laid for which relationships can be lived in the course of life. Both psychoanalysis and attachment theory assume that early relationship experiences are important for the gender identity experience. Supportive, responsive behavior and present caregivers in childhood are the basis for a self-confident experience of identity. "

- Hertha Richter-Appelt : Gender identity and dysphoria

In the first years of life, the child takes possession of its own "physicality", as it were; what Richter-Appelt calls it comes to the “draft of a topography of pleasurable experiences”. As a rule, it is not the children who initially suffer from deviations, but their parents. If deviations occur, the children are exposed to influences that can create fear of not being accepted or “not desired”. This could lead to "uncertainty in the development of identity". The “experience of being different” could “lead to loneliness at an early stage”. On the other hand, it has been shown that "a tolerant handling of non-gender-specific interests and behaviors can lead to a more stable development of the self and then the so often feared stigmatization is experienced as less traumatizing ". "A conscious and open approach to the specific situation and the acceptance of the child in his specialty could represent the basis for the most undisturbed development possible."

Medical historical aspects

“Although intersex organizations have long resisted this, an 'ambiguous' gender - measured against the norm of male and female gender - is still considered to be pathological and in need of treatment. Medical authority, belief in medical-technical feasibility, social pressure to adapt and the attitude of politics form a conglomerate that prevents rethinking - at the expense of the physical integrity and the right of intersex people to self-determination. "

- Ulrike Klöppel : Medicalization of 'ambiguous' gender

With these words Klöppel introduces her medical-historical considerations “for the German-speaking area” on the question of how “the medical power to define over intersexuality was able to establish itself historically”. "Central to this was [...] the construction of 'gender identity' as a psychic entity in the middle of the 20th century."

Albert Moll , Handbuch der Sexualwissenschaften, Verlag FC Vogel, Leipzig 1921, p. 491

The first “attempts to medicalize 'ambiguous' gender” were made as early as the 16th century. Klöppel understands this as the “self-proclaimed claim of the doctors” that only they are able to “carry out a gender assignment [...]” in dubious cases. The cases of doubt would have been called hermaphrodites at the time . Their assignment to one of the two unambiguous genders is "a question of scientific truth [...], the solution of which requires precise anatomical knowledge and therefore belongs to the sole responsibility of academically trained healers". However, this claim of the doctors remained "into the 19th century" without "practical consequences" and was possibly due to the "inconsistent legal situation in German-speaking countries".

“The Bavarian Codex Maximilianeus Civilis of 1756 prescribed: 'Hermaphrodites are included in the sex which, according to advice and opinion, penetrates their understanding; but if equality is shown in this, they should choose one themselves, and not deviate from the chosen sub Poena Falsi (under threat of perjury, UK). '"

- Ulrike Klöppel : Medicalization of 'ambiguous' gender

In addition, “Paragraph 20 of the General Land Law for the Prussian States of 1794” provided for a “right to vote for adult hermaphrodites” - also without the obligation to consult an expert. “An expert judgment was only required in legal disputes”. However, neither of the two laws stated anything about the profession of expert, so that midwives could also “be consulted by the courts”. According to the so-called midwifery regulations , however, they were obliged “to consult a doctor in the event of 'freak births', which also included hermaphrodites”, which, however, rarely happened in practice. Klöppel connects the doctors' claim that “only they are capable and authorized to assign the sex of hermaphrodites” with the attempt “in this way to gain a further field of responsibility compared to the competition of midwives, barbers and non-academic surgeons” .

After the establishment of the German Empire in 1871, the "legal situation of hermaphrodites [...] completely changed". The civil status law was introduced and their “right to choose their sex” was no longer applicable. The laws provided for a clear assignment to a gender, although "leading scientists [assumed] that there is a continuum of the sexes in which the different variants of hermaphroditism embodied the intermediate stages". Rudolf Virchow was one of the representatives of this position . Together with others, he had demanded "that the legislature must create a solution for the civil registration of such people" and that the right to vote for sex be reintroduced. Attempts by some lawyers to “change the legal situation could not prevail”. The law required "a clear assignment, but left medicine to determine the criteria for it." In this way, the doctors “actually got the role they had been demanding since the 16th century”. The decline in home births also contributed to this. They had been “predominant” around 1900. “Hospital deliveries” rose to “about 50 percent” over the next 30 years and were “almost 100 percent” in 1970.

"For the actual establishment of the medical expert position [...] the development from the middle of the 20th century was decisive." Intersexuality was the "now common term". The medical profession in Germany had complained that "there are no scientific criteria for the gender assignment of intersex people", which is why the majority have suggested that "medical interventions should be based on the 'subjective' gender" and that "genital plastic" operations should fail in childhood, also “if the parents so wish”. Technically it was meanwhile "no longer a problem [...] to surgically and hormonally adjust 'ambiguous' genitals to the male or female norm". If this happened "in individual cases" at the request of the parents, "sharp criticism" arose from the medical profession, although "genital plastic surgery in childhood" was "by no means strictly taboo" for reasons other than intersexuality. It was recommended “to wait until at least puberty with intersex children with surgical interventions” - “until the mental attitude could be recognized”.

The situation was different overseas, where "at the Baltimore Johns Hopkins Hospital in the USA genital operations on intersex children have already been systematically carried out". The operated children would have been examined by a "research group around the psychologist John Money ".

“She came to the conclusion that when children were operated on and that people raised clearly as girls or boys identified themselves with their gender roles, they displayed adapted behavior and heterosexual orientation, even if the assignment did not match their biological gender. From this, the research group derived the theory that psychosexuality is shaped by gender assignment, upbringing and body image. However, influence can only be exerted in the critical phase of the first two years of life, after which the child irreversibly identifies as male or female. "

- Ulrike Klöppel : Medicalization of 'ambiguous' gender

The beliefs of doctors in Germany that the “psychosexual development” of these children is “unpredictable” have, according to Klöppel, been “theoretically and practically questioned” with these research results. They could not have "permanently opposed" the new findings. Money developed a theoretical model after the “early childhood social imprint” interacted with the “prenatal hormone constellation”, which “ultimately also convinced the remaining German critics”. In the 1990s, “protests by organizations of intersex people” made themselves heard and “brought about a certain sensitization in medicine for the problems of genital operations in childhood”. An “end of this practice” is “not yet in sight”.

Klöppel concludes that this development, which has not only produced systematic “genital operations on intersexual children”, but also medical-psychological “research aimed at isolating and controlling the influencing factors of psychosexual development”, developed “in the course of time of the 20th century ”as a“ new psychic entity ”that developed gender identity . It is "the result of a construction process that began around the turn of the century with the separation of psychosexual feelings from the unity of biological sex". Since then, a “clear and stable affective connection to the male or female gender status” has been considered a “basic condition of mental health and social integration”. In this way, a “normative script is inscribed in the bodies and psyche of intersex people in an authoritarian manner”.

Ethical aspects

Michael Wunder has dealt extensively with the "Statement on the subject of intersexuality" by the German Ethics Council , which was preceded by "an intensive dialogue with those affected, self-help groups and scientists" on the one hand and some scientific studies on the other. Wunder was guided by his concern to "get the subject out of the taboo zone" and "bring it into the realm of normality ".

The first advocacy group for intersex people was founded in 1990 under the name Intersex Society of North America . With some time lag, self-help groups emerged in “German-speaking countries”, in 2004 the intersexual people association and in 2010 the intermediate sex association . They were followed by numerous others, each with a different focus, but united in their criticism of “the classification of intersexuality as a disease”.

In 2008, the Intersexual People Association turned to the responsible committee of the United Nations , reported on violations of the Anti-Discrimination Convention and made suggestions on how to “avoid and remedy violations of the Convention”. Thereupon the UN committee called on the German government to monitor the international agreement “to eliminate all forms of discrimination” and to ensure that it is complied with. As a result, in 2010 the Federal Government commissioned the German Ethics Council to deal with this issue as distinct from “issues of transsexuality ” after the interest groups of those affected had already contacted him because they were in an “invalidating environment ”And“ medicine that acted too quickly and was perceived as threatening ”, but also suffered from“ social ignorance and lack of support ”.

“The government's dual mandate to conduct a dialogue and develop an opinion has proven extremely productive and appropriate. The dialogue was initiated with an extensive survey of those affected, in which around 200 people took part, and continued with a large public hearing in June 2011 and a moderated online discourse. This has resulted in countless suggestions and information, but also controversies, which, as well as the results of a systematic survey of over 40 scientists from the fields of medicine, law, psychology, ethics and philosophy, were included in the public statement. "

- Michael Wunder : Intersexuality: Life between the sexes

Because the term intersexuality is “neither clear nor undisputed” and some groups reject it as discriminatory for themselves, “the report of the German Ethics Council referred to the medical term DSD ”, which “according to the proposal, also German ethicists and doctors as differences of sexual development should be translated and understood ”.

The "pathological view of intersexuality", which was established in the 1950s by the results of the research group around the "American psychologist John Money ", was only "revised within medicine" in 2005 - at the Chicago Consensus Conference . This is where the “change in the understanding of intersexuality” began with the demand for ethical “principles and recommendations at DSD”. From now on, "surgical and hormonal interventions on children of ambiguous gender [...] should only be carried out under certain conditions" and a "compelling medical indication". When one should be asked, however, remained a matter of dispute. "Long-term scientific studies on the consequences of medical interventions in intersexuality are largely lacking."

Two “empirical studies on the quality of life ” of intersex people had been submitted to the ethics council - the so-called network study and the Hamburg intersex study  - and he carried out a third survey himself. “None of the three studies can claim to be representative ”, but “in the absence of other sources, the information from these three studies could provide important clues”. About 70 to 80% “of the DSD sufferers recorded in these three studies” had “been subjected to surgical interventions”, most of them “at an age not capable of consent”. The results on “subjectively expressed quality of life” are inconsistent, depending on which subgroup is considered in which study. Conclusions from the findings could only have been drawn with “all due caution”, with different for the various subgroups.

The “demands to improve the situation” by those affected show a great variety. They range from “more education in society” to the establishment of “out-of-hospital contact and advice centers” to “financial and structural help for self-help groups to set up a nationwide help network”. From science, "interdisciplinary competence centers for the best possible professional treatment of those affected with more time, less pressure to make decisions and greater attention to the individual circumstances" would be called for. Where necessary, calls for measures to remedy “poor integration and participation in society” would be raised.

"Against the background of these findings, the German Ethics Council took a differentiated look at the various subgroups of DSD and differentiates between gender-unambiguous and gender-assigning interventions." The ethics council assesses gender-assigning operations as an interference with the right to physical integrity and to safeguard gender and sexual interventions Identity which, in principle, only those affected “could decide for themselves. In this respect, such interventions should be waited until the "decisive age [s]" has been reached - unless there is "a serious risk to the physical health of the child". For the "unambiguous interventions", which the Ethics Council considers to be "less serious", it proposes a "comprehensive weighing of the medical, psychological and psychosocial advantages and disadvantages in the interests of the child " and "in case of doubt", the "decision-making ability of those affected “To be seen. The Ethics Council recommends "the medical diagnosis and treatment of DSD sufferers only in a specially qualified, interdisciplinary competence center composed of doctors, psychologists, social counselors and other experts". For gender allocation, it is proposed that “in addition to the alternatives“ female ”and“ male ”, following the Australian model, the category“ other ”should be introduced and the possibility of a later entry should be provided for the civil status register”.

In summary, Wunder suggests striving for the goal that “people with DSD ” with their “specialty and as part of social diversity experience respect and support from society”.

Historical aspects

Rainer Herrn, research associate at the Institute for the History of Medicine at the Charité and since 1991 employee of the Magnus Hirschfeld Society , dealt  - with the focus on transvestism and transsexuality - with the history of the desire to achieve a gender other than the biological sex and let prominent figures Sexologists from the 19th and 20th centuries have their say.

" Cross-dressing - the change to clothing of the opposite sex - and, often connected with it, the change of social sex have long been known in European cultural history", but less so about "the motives and everyday social life of such historical persons". For a long time there was no “significant term” for them. In Germany they were "until the middle of the 19th century as impostors and swindlers, some were even suspected of espionage ".

When cross-dressing came into the "medical focus" during the late 19th century, "traditional concepts of mixed sex" were used, including " hermaphroditism " in particular . Cross-dressing has been associated with the “same-sex sexual desire of men”, “for which the term ' homosexuality ' prevailed in the 20th century ”. Karl Heinrich Ulrichs - as far as is known, the first self-confessed homosexual - wrote his "emancipatory pamphlets", which have been published since 1864, against the "criminal liability of sexual acts between men" which is valid " under Prussian law" . His writings "initially suggested the Berlin professor and Charité psychiatrist Carl Westphal and ten years later his Graz colleague Richard von Krafft-Ebing to establish modern sexual pathology". He "put forward the thesis of the female soul in the male body".

“In the sex-pathological school of thought of the last third of the 19th century, there was a coupling of cross-dressing with same-sex desire to form an overall phenomenon, precisely that 'contrary sexual sensation'. As a collective term, this new diagnosis includes without exception all modes of feeling and behavior that deviate from the gender norms. "

- Rainer Herrn : Incarnations of the opposite sex

Ulrichs himself "rejected in his emancipatory concept [...] any attribution of illness". A "sexual pathological interpretation" only took place with the "reception of his writings".

At the turn of the century there was an "increasing scientification, popularization and politicization of homosexuality". In 1897 the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee was established and thus "homosexuals became a common social character in public". The co-founder of this association was Magnus Hirschfeld , whose "research on sexual intermediates" gave birth to the concept of intermediary theory , which has been established since 1903. He published the yearbook for sexual intermediate stages , the aim of which was to "report on the full range of mixed-sex forms".

Cross-dressers did not always agree when they were labeled homosexual. They had sought a conversation with Hirschfeld, who then developed his “draft of transvestism”, with which they were differentiated from the group of homosexuals. The homosexuals also sought distance from the cross-dressers and would not have wanted to be grouped with them. "The aim of the homosexual movement [was] the abolition of Paragraph 175 of the Reich Criminal Code (RStGB)." But also people "who were recognized by the police as transvestites [were] involved because of 'causing public nuisance' and thus 'disturbing public order' threatened severe penalties ”.

In Berlin “a diverse transvestite culture with its own bars, meeting places, organizations and magazines developed” and Hirschfeld “negotiated an agreement with the police authorities together with his colleague Iwan Bloch around 1910”, “according to which no arrest was made”, provided that a so-called and "medically certified" transvestite certificate could be presented. Since 1921 it was then possible "in an expert procedure" to "replace first names clearly referring to the gender with a neutral [...]", which, however, has some dependency on the "goodwill of the experts", but also "on the understanding of the Police and Justice ”brought with it.

At the time of Hirschfeld's work there were some transvestites "who not only preferred the clothes of the opposite sex, but also felt they belonged to it". Nevertheless, there were no reports of requests for gender reassignment operations, especially since the "appropriate techniques" had not yet been developed. Soon, however, still at the beginning of the 20th century, there was a “charging of meaning in the sex body”, as Mr calls it, and this not only brought about a “redefinition and upgrading” of the physical, but also had an impact on the “ Construction of the Self ”.

In the course of these developments, those “who felt they belonged to the opposite sex” had an increasingly pressing desire for a “physical redesign” of their own body. Deep suffering would have caused “individuals” to “enforce irreversible changes through invasive interventions - such as castration and amputation - or to carry them out on themselves”. The "techniques necessary for this were developed in the cosmetic medicine that emerged around 1900". However, it was not yet about adapting to the desired gender, but rather about "erasing the signs of the gender of origin". Increasingly, people who practiced cross-dressing were differentiated from those who felt that they belonged entirely to the opposite sex. The English sexologist Havelock Ellis was the scientific protagonist of this differentiation .

The first “attempts at operative sex reassignment” are said to have started with the Berlin surgeon Richard Mühsam, who in 1912 operated on “what he called a female transvestite” and removed “breasts and uterus”. Although the "interventions from today's perspective may be considered the first gender reassignment performed by a doctor from woman-to-man, they were not regarded as such at the time". Strictly speaking, according to today's understanding, this was not yet a gender reassignment, as more is required for this. Seven years later, Hirschfeld opened “his Institute for Sexology in 1919 ” and “in the first year alone” asked “twelve men for a castration”. All but two could have been dissuaded from their wish.

"The first completely documented man-to-woman sex reassignment took place in 1920/1921 in a patient of the Hirschfeld Institute " - carried out on a "medical student who threatened suicide with pistol in hand ". For Mr. this operation arose from "the individual plight of a patient and medical omnipotence fantasies" of the doctors. In 1931 Felix Abraham reported "in a first medical publication" about "the routine of operations" that were carried out with "the support of the Institute for Sexology". In addition to Abraham, Ludwig Levy-Lenz was also one of the institute's staff from 1925 . The "best known of these early sex reassignments" was "that of the Danish painter Einar Wegener ".

After the “National Socialists came to power in 1933”, the “wishes for gender reassignment” allegedly disappeared, so that “ Karl Bonhoeffer reported in 1941” that, in contrast to the Weimar era, he did not see them again. No systematic research is available on the “fate of those operated before 1933”.

"It was not until the 1950s that a new medical discussion about sex reassignment began in the USA, but not with direct reference to the German forerunners, without which it is of course inconceivable."

- Rainer Herrn : Incarnations of the opposite sex

It took until the 1960s until “in both German states 'transsexualism', later of 'transsexuality' was spoken of” after “Benjamin's works” had been received. Because Harry Benjamin had introduced the term transsexuality .

Ethnological aspects

“What defines a man or a woman, whether two or more genders are recognized, to what extent body, sexuality and social roles are considered constitutive for gender - all of this depends on the respective cultural context and is subject to processes of cultural change. In many societies, especially outside of Europe, gender constructions and also the boundaries between the categories 'man' and 'woman' differ from the patterns we are familiar with; there are temporary or permanent alternatives to gender clarity, known as the ' third gender ' were. "

- Susanne Schröter : Boundaries between the sexes

From an ethnological perspective, Schröter describes these boundaries using examples from Asia, North America, the Balkans and Brazil.

In India, Hijras are members of the "third sex"; it is said that they are known far beyond the country's borders. They are "referred to as intersexuals and associated with a past divine order". They are "considered endowed with supernatural powers" and one of their "noblest tasks" is to "bless newborns". To do this, they would visit “families in which a child has just been born” - with or without an invitation.

Contrary to this “idealized conception of spiritually gifted intersexuals”, “most hijras are not born with an ambiguous but with a clearly male gender” and they are “homosexuals or transsexuals”. The "Indian society" accepts "sexual male deviance only in this form". If they are actually intersex people, "they are naturally marked with the sacred". But in spite of all “holiness”, her everyday life has always been “shaped by a life on the edge of society”. Since they could not live on blessings alone, they worked “primarily as aggressive beggars and prostitutes”. Their “communities” resembled “organized brothels”, “in which structures of exploitation predominate”. Although "the religious background of the phenomenon is often placed in the foreground", the "motivation to become hijra is seldom based on religion".

Schröter also mentions a "Pakistani-Muslim equivalent called khusra ". There are also narratives for this phenomenon in Pakistan whose "truthfulness" is contested by Haniya Rais, an anthropologist . She reduced it “to a homosexual subculture”, in which intersexuality is idealized and constitutes “its own hierarchy”, “at the top of which, according to Rais, are those who have undergone the castration ritual, while khusras who have not yet been castrated, or temporary homosexuals (zenanas) are considered less pure ”. Khusras are "often followers of local saints cults and practice a mystical form of Islam". They would be "respected by the people they live with".

"The institution of the hijras and khusras is therefore not a sign of liberalism or even the non-existence of a rigid gender order, but an outlet for those who, due to their biology or their deviant desires, fall out of the given rigid framework."

- Susanne Schröter : Boundaries between the sexes

The cultural magazine Fikrun wa Fann also dealt with the third gender in Pakistan with a detailed article.

Dance to the Berdache (painting by George Catlin : 1796–1872)

In the "indigenous societies of northern America", according to Schröter, the "institution of the third sex has been handed down since the 16th century". For this, different terms had prevailed at different times until, due to criticism from “Indian activists” at the end of the 20th century, “the term two spirit ” prevailed. Here, too, there are "myths that refer to an idealized double-sex condition". However, this was not just about “sexual preference”, but also about a “general 'job preference'”, because two spirits also strived for the “social role of the opposite sex, its position in the work process and in the family Politics and War ”. In this sense, the anthropologist Thomas Wesley spoke of "five different gender roles" for the Navajo . Among the Plains Indians , a "warrior tradition " of the so-called manly-hearted women (German: women with a man's heart) was described, who were "recognized and respected" because "they had proven themselves where men acquire prestige". Homosexuality was also “frowned upon with“ North American Indians, and sexual contact was only allowed between people who were identified as being of the opposite sex ”. Even today homosexuals of both sexes are largely confronted with "rejection and discrimination".

Like other authors, Schröter also points out that the "overwhelming number of all phenomena of the third sex" affect people who could be "described as man-to-woman changers". Why this is so has not yet been scientifically clarified. Her penultimate example, "the 'sworn virgins' of the southern Balkans ", is an exception in this respect. They are "female persons who maintain a male habitus and are recognized in their male role by society".

Virgos sworn have a male name, wear male clothes, a male haircut, smoke and drink. They only do 'male' activities such as plowing, chopping wood or making hay, carrying weapons and taking part in hunts and acts of war. Their behavior corresponds to the Albanian stereotype of masculinity [...]. "

- Susanne Schröter : Boundaries between the sexes

The phenomenon of the sworn virgins is - and there is "no doubt in research" - not about an "institutionalized niche for female rebels", but about "maintaining the patriarchal heterosexual order in times of male shortage", even if not all Individual would be "the product of a family shortage of men". As a rule, these women would have taken an oath "never to marry or enter into a sexual relationship". But it should "have happened that 'sworn virgins'' said goodbye to their status and married".

For Brazil, Schröter describes a “peculiarity of the 'third' gender” with the so-called “travestis” there. Travestis would “transform” into women by taking “high doses of estrogens” and “injecting silicone into breasts, hips, thighs and bottom” - up to “20 liters should be used”. This would create "a perfect female body with male genitals". Travestis are "very proud of successful results" and are "socially and sexually [...] between the sexes". They have “sexual contacts in which they are active and those in which they are passive”, but as “prostitutes they meet customers who want to be penetrated” and whom they “despise”. In their private lives they “only enter into relationships with 'real' men”. They “reject gender reassignments because they do not want to forego masculine genital pleasure”, they “consciously distance themselves from transsexuals and clearly see themselves as men”. As a prostitute, “travestis behave anything but feminine”. They are "brutal, violent and have a dubious reputation as cohabitants ". All in all, her “self-staging” results in an “image that is based in every respect on a combination of female and male attributes - a perfect intersexual construction”.

In summary, Schröter states "that gender and gender identity by no means form a universal pattern that can be biologically founded".

“In the academic debate, the existence of three or more genders is often defined as an indicator of a liberal gender order that is opposed to the supposedly more repressive order of Western societies. However, this cannot be confirmed empirically. Rather, the existence of the third sex often explicitly confirms a hegemonic system of heterosexual bisexuality, which forces homosexuals to change their sex. "

- Susanne Schröter : Boundaries between the sexes

International aspects

In their contribution on gender identity and human rights, Arn Sauer and Jana Mittag attempt to “describe” the path from invisibility, exclusion and oppression to becoming visible and appreciative recognition of gender and physical diversity ”in international contexts and taking human rights into account. During his "official visits to the 47 member states of the Council of Europe [...] Sauer was shocked by the lack of knowledge regarding human rights issues of transgender people, even among political decision-makers". For a definition of the concept of gender identity , the team of authors adopts that of the Yogyakarta principles :

“By 'gender identity' one understands the deeply felt inner and personal feeling of belonging to a gender that matches or does not match the gender that the person concerned was at birth; this includes the perception of one's own body (including the voluntary change in the external physical appearance or functions of the body through medical, surgical or other interventions) as well as other expressions of gender, e.g. through clothing, language and behavior. "

- Hirschfeld Eddy Foundation: The Yogyakarta Principles

The Yogyakarta principles are "at the end of a more than 60-year-old, controversial and until the very recent past mainly medico-psychological debate on identity determination, which still pathologizes trans and intersexuality". They were "drafted and coordinated " in the city of Yogyakarta in 2006 "by an international committee" and summarized existing standards of human rights on the subject of gender identity. "At least five countries" are "known to recognize a third gender or to include an" X "as a gender entry in passports". These are India, Pakistan, Nepal, Australia and New Zealand. In 2010 a resolution was passed in the “General Assembly of the Council of Europe” which was directed “against discrimination based on gender identity”. “The global mapping of the legal and social situation” of people with a third gender, which was made available online by the research project Transrespect versus Transphobia (TvT) , provides an overview of national regulations in 66 countries around the world .

Despite a "gradually improving international human rights situation", many people who feel they belong to a third gender are "still the target of discrimination and violence, including capital crimes ". Your “legal as well as medical” situation is problematic in “most of the countries in the world”. One encounters “high treatment costs” and “prescribed operations” - the “Dutch Transsexual Act, for example, stipulates“ sterility is still mandatory ”. On the one hand, the “medical diagnoses of transsexuality and intersexuality” led to stigmatization ; On the other hand, however, they formed "in some countries the basis for reimbursement of medical measures". That, in turn, “only exists in a few countries”; “Often there are no quality standards for operations”. If there is no “health care”, self-treatment is often resorted to, “with often serious damage to health and even death”.

Despite some similarities, there are also numerous differences. In many countries, for example, transsexuals suffered “from the refusal of intended medical treatment”, while intersexuals are not infrequently “traumatized by compulsory treatment”, which is often carried out “at an age not capable of giving consent without actual medical necessity” and mostly “designed as female”. "Most neo-genitals show - contrary to medical feasibility promises - no or no pronounced sensitivity, infertility is often another consequence". An "uncritical introduction [...] of western medical standards" also endangers existing structures in the "few remaining pre-colonial societies" in which those affected can "live protected".

For civil status and legal situation, different regulations and legal bases have been developed in most countries according to the different cultural characteristics. "Procedures for entering gender and changing first names" are often "if they exist at all, lengthy and bureaucratic". In 30 of the 61 countries examined as a result, “changes are possible”, albeit subject to different “conditions”. As a rule, the submission of psychiatric reports is required.

In many countries, the “needs” of people with a third gender are barely noticed by the “public and also in politics”, “information offers” are rare and “different gender identities and sexual orientations” are often associated with “ homosexuality ” without reference to the different meanings equated ". But this is "criminalized in a large number of African and Islamic countries, the penalties go up to the death penalty ". There is "a worrying trend towards criminalization [...] to be observed".

The socio-economic situation for people who feel they belong to a third gender is often characterized by “poverty and unemployment” and is “an elementary concern all over the world”. "Many" of those affected work as prostitutes or take on jobs "in other illegal or dangerous underground economies". In some countries niches have developed, but without material conditions improving significantly.

Due to so-called transphobia or homophobia , there is not only a lack of respect, but for people “with non-gender-conforming demeanor”, ​​it is not just in the case of discrimination. In many countries they are exposed to considerable violence, "partly from their own families", and in some countries there is a threat of "torture and murder". From 2008 "to March 2012 a total of 816 murders [...] with increasing numbers of cases (sic!) Were documented in 55 countries worldwide". Rarely are there only “public advocates who stand up for the protection of human rights [...]”. But there are exceptions. For example, “positive examples” could be found “in the Pacific region”.

There is still no comprehensive “human rights protection” for people with trans- and intersexuality and numerous “human rights violations” directed against them have been found worldwide. They “have similar but also different problems” that are not always taken into account. For example, “there is no empirical research on the living conditions and discrimination situations” of intersex people “and only little” on transsexuals. The still “young emancipation movements” of the two groups fought “sometimes together - sometimes separately” for “depathologization, destigmatization and, as the highest priority [for] the self-determination rights of their members”.

Gender identity disorders

When the relevant specialist literature deals with sexual identity disorders, it is not always made clear what meaning the terms used are assigned. Many of the terms used in this context do not appear either in the ICD-10 or in the vocabulary of the psychoanalysis of Laplanche and Pontalis . Other specialist dictionaries also only know a few of the terms used. This may be due to the fact that there is no definition that has been agreed on in related sciences such as psychology , sociology or sexology . In addition, there is still no doubt in specialist circles that there can be disorder -related disorders of gender identity; but since the topic of transgender has been widely discussed in public, the related content has changed. The diagnosis of what used to be called gender identity disorder has also already been removed from the relevant DSM diagnosis manual . However, version 10 of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) still applies.

Version 11 of the ICD, which has been under revision since 2007 and which was planned to be published in May 2018, is being discussed controversially by the relevant associations. The Action Transsexuality and Human Rights (ATME) announced resistance in July 2017 in the event that it can not assert itself with its request submitted to the WHO to "delete the diagnosis' Gender incongruence of childhood '' from the upcoming ICD":

“We consider it [..] overriding to put children in counseling programs that may aim to convince children that their physical issue is an issue of 'gender identity'. If the above-mentioned organizations pursue this goal, then we tell them: You can count on our resistance. "

- ATME , July 2017

In the DSM-5 , the term gender dysphoria has been assigned to pathological disorders of gender identity .

Gender debate

Discussions about gender identity and the question of the relationship between the sexes are uncomfortable. In July 2017, the philosopher Rebekka Reinhard and her colleague Thomas Vašek proposed "to bury the old gender debate". It is a “debate about the gender difference” and it is “ideologically frozen”, “intellectually fruitless” and is in a “dead end”. The two authors of Hohe Luft magazine call for "a fundamentally different view" of the "gender difference - a view that takes people seriously in terms of their individuality and ability to self-determination". According to the two authors, biological differences and social norms are not the decisive factors. Rather, women and men take “different things important”, and that is, much more than anything else, the “fundamental difference that separates the sexes from one another”. They suggest “thinking” about a concept they call “ethical gender” and that would be based “on male and female values”. All genders could use these values, regardless of biology or socialization. The authors conclude:

"Only when male and female values ​​collide, without the issue of power and submission, the gender difference can unfold its fruitful effect - as a difference between values, not between men (sic!) And women."

Themed articles on gender identity

Professional article (selection)

Philosophical (selection)

Films (selection)




  1. This includes, for example, the professional role , which can be just as identity-creating as the role as a parent and many others, each of which is expressed in a different way and with different means.
  2. Milton Diamond , Professor of Anatomy and Reproductive Biology, linked different terms (2002): “Sexual identity speaks to the way one views him or her self as a male or female. This inner conviction of identification usually mirrors one's outward physical appearance and the typically sex-linked role one develops and prefers or society attempts to impose. Gender identity is recognition of the perceived social gender attributed to a person. Typically a male is perceived as a boy or a man where boy and man are social terms with associated cultural expectations attached. Similarly, a female is perceived as a girl or woman. ” “ Sexual identity describes the way in which one sees oneself as male or female. This inner conviction of self-identification usually reflects the outward appearance and typically gender-linked role one develops and prefers or that society tries to impose. Gender identity is the recognition of the perceived social gender that is assigned to a person. Typically, a boy or a man is perceived as masculine when boy and man are social terms with associated cultural expectations. Similarly, a girl or a woman is perceived as female. ” Milton Diamond: Sex and Gender are Different. Sexual Identity and Gender Identity are Different . In: Clinical Child Psychology & Psychiatry . tape

     7 , no. 3 , 2002, p. 320–334 , doi : 10.1177 / 1359104502007003002 (English).
  3. see gonad
  4. see for example internal genital organs
  5. see, for example, external genital organs
  6. Here Richter-Appelt erroneously cites a wrong source in FN 4 on p. 1 of her article. Correct would be: Franziska Brunner, Caroline Prochnow, Katinka Schweizer, Hertha Richter-Appelt: Body and gender experiences in people with complete androgen insensitivity . In: Z Sex-Forsch . tape 25 , no. 1 . Georg Thieme, Stuttgart / New York 2012, p. 26-48 , doi : 10.1055 / s-0031-1283940 .
  7. On its website, the Intersex Society of North America states 1993 as the year of foundation.
  8. ↑ Unmentioned by Wunder: In 1993 the Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans *, Intersexual and Queer People in Psychology (VLSP) was founded in Germany and in 2003 the organization Intersex International was founded in Canada .
  9. On this apparently controversial study by Eva Kleinemeier and Martina Jürgensen: First results of the clinical evaluation study in the Network Disorders of Gender Development / Intersexuality in Germany, Austria and Switzerland January 2005 to December 2007 ; carried out as part of the network "Disorders of Gender Development (DSD) / Intersexuality". 41 pages ( memento of February 21, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 228 kB) on, a source can be found on the net ( 9 pages (PDF; 2.4 MB) castration hospital. ch), the origin of which, however, cannot be considered certain The criticism of the study goes as far as allegations of manipulation (for example User Seelenlos: How the “Network DSD” / “Euro DSD” fudges the “Lübeck Study”. In: blog. June 17, 2009).

Individual evidence

  1. a b c Hartmut AG Bosinski : Determinants of gender identity. New findings on an old dispute . In: Sexology . tape  7 , no. 2/3 , 2000, ISSN  0944-7105 , p. 100 ( [PDF; 298 kB ; accessed on June 9, 2017]).
  2. Hartmut Bosinski: Determinants of gender identity . 2000, p. 130
  3. ^ Heinrich Böll Foundation Hessen: Böll Analytics with Sophinette Becker - Identity! (from 0:27:18) on YouTube , December 15, 2018, accessed on June 19, 2020 (live recording of the lecture on December 4, 2018).
  4. ^ Heinrich Böll Foundation Hessen: Böll Analytics with Sophinette Becker - Identity! (from 0:12:50) on YouTube , December 15, 2018, accessed on June 19, 2020 (live recording of the lecture on December 4, 2018).
  5. a b Hartmut AG Bosinski: Determinants of gender identity. New findings on an old dispute . In: Sexology . tape 7 , no. 2/3 , 2000, ISSN  0944-7105 , p. 96 ( [PDF; 298 kB ; accessed on June 8, 2017]).
  6. Volkmar Sigusch : Sexual Worlds. Heckling from a sexologist . Psychosocial, Gießen 2005, ISBN 3-89806-482-4 , p.  97 .
  7. Hartmut Bosinski: Determinants of gender identity . 2000, p. 108
  8. Hartmut AG Bosinski: Determinants of gender identity. New findings on an old dispute . In: Sexology . tape 7 , no. 2/3 , 2000, ISSN  0944-7105 , p. 108 ( [PDF; 298 kB ; accessed on June 9, 2017]).
  9. a b Hartmut Bosinski: Determinants of gender identity . 2000, p. 109
  10. Give an overview of the research results on the question of male aggressive behavior
    • GP Knight, RA Fabes, DA Higgins: Concerns about drawing causal inferences from meta-analyzes: An example in the study of gender differences in aggression . In: Psychol Bull . tape 119 , no. 3 , 1996, p. 410-421 , PMID 8668746 (English).
    • BA Bettencourt, N. Miller: Gender differences in aggression as a function of provocation: A meta-analysis . In: Psychol Bull . tape 119 , no. 3 , 1996, p. 422-447 , PMID 8668747 (English).
  11. ^ E. Schorsch , G. Galedary, A. Haag, M. Hauch, H. Lohse: Perversion as a criminal offense. Dynamics and Psychotherapy . Springer, Berlin / Heidelberg / New York / Tokyo 1985, ISBN 978-3-540-12468-9 .
  12. a b The Yogyakarta Principles. Principles for the application of human rights in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity . In: Hirschfeld Eddy Foundation (ed.): Series of publications by the Hirschfeld Eddy Foundation . tape  1 , 2008, ISSN  1865-6056 , p. 11 , footnote 2 ( [PDF; 521 kB ; accessed on July 5, 2017] English: The Yogyakarta Principles. Principles on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity . Yogyakarta 2006. Translated by Hirschfeld-Eddy-Stiftung with the support of Petra Schäfter and the German Institute for Human Rights).
  13. Hartmut Bosinski: Determinants of gender identity . 2000, p. 97
  14. Jessica Benjamin : Imagination and Gender. Studies on idealization, recognition and difference . Stroemfeld, Basel 1993, ISBN 3-86109-101-1 , p.  16 ff .
  15. Jessica Benjamin: Imagination and Gender . 1993, p. 16
  16. Jessica Benjamin: Imagination and Gender . 1993, pp. 16/17
  17. IT person, L. Ovesay: Psychoanalytic Theories of Gender Identity . In: Journal of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis . tape 11 , 1983, ISSN  1546-0371 , pp. 203-226 . quoted from Benjamin 1993, p. 17
  18. Karl König : The fixation in the dyad (= P. Buchheim, M. Cierpka, Th. Seifert [Hrsg.]: Lindauer texts. Texts for psychotherapeutic further and further education . Conflicts in the triad. Rules of the game in psychotherapy. Further education research and Evaluation). Springer, Berlin / Heidelberg 1995, ISBN 978-3-540-59161-0 , p.  39-50 .
  19. a b Jessica Benjamin: Fantasy and Gender . 1993, p. 18
  20. a b Jessica Benjamin: Fantasy and Gender . 1993, p. 19
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  22. Jessica Benjamin: Imagination and Gender . 1993, p. 20
  23. Hartmut Bosinski: Determinants of gender identity . 2000, p. 114
  24. a b c Hartmut Bosinski: Determinants of gender identity . 2000, p. 115
  25. Hartmut Bosinski: Determinants of gender identity . 2000, p. 131
  26. Hartmut Bosinski: Determinants of gender identity . 2000, p. 132
  27. Mahrokh Charlier: Gender- specific development in patriarchal-Islamic societies and their effects on the migration process . In: Psyche . tape 60 , 2006, ISSN  0033-2623 , p. 97-117 .
  28. a b Hartmut Bosinski: Determinants of gender identity . 2000, p. 112
  29. To get an overview, Bosinski (on p. 112) suggests various publications, including:
    • Eleanor E. Maccoby : The two sexes. Growing up apart, coming together . Harvard University Press, Cambridge 1998, ISBN 978-0-674-91482-7 (English).
    • DN Ruble, CL Martin: Gender Development . In: William Damon (Ed.): Handbook of child psychology . 6th edition. tape 3 . Wiley, New York 2006, ISBN 978-0-471-27290-8 , Social, emotional, and personality development, pp. 933-1016 (English).
  30. Hartmut Bosinski: Determinants of gender identity . 2000, p. 104
  31. Hartmut Bosinski: Determinants of gender identity . 2000, p. 118
  32. Hartmut Bosinski: Determinants of gender identity . 2000, p. 113
  33. Volkmar Sigusch : Sexual Worlds. Heckling from a sexologist . Psychosocial, Gießen 2005, ISBN 3-89806-482-4 , p.  67 .
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  37. a b Anne Seibring: Gender identity. Editorial. In: From Politics and Contemporary History. Federal Agency for Civic Education, May 8, 2012, accessed on April 10, 2017 .
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  39. Carolin Küppers: Sociological dimensions of gender. In: From Politics and Contemporary History. Federal Agency for Civic Education, May 8, 2012, accessed on April 10, 2017 : “The division into two clearly distinguishable genders structures our everyday life. It appears as a 'natural' and self-evident fact, but is much more complex from a sociological perspective. "
  40. Eckart Voland , Johannes Johow: Gender and gender role: Sociobiological aspects. In: From Politics and Contemporary History. Federal Agency for Civic Education, May 8, 2012, accessed on April 10, 2017 : “The division into 'male' and 'female' is justified, as the history of evolution shows. The factors for individual development - 'facilities' and 'environment' - cannot be viewed independently of one another. "
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  42. Ulrike Klöppel: Medicalization of 'ambiguous' gender. In: From Politics and Contemporary History. Federal Agency for Civic Education, May 8, 2012, accessed on April 10, 2017 : “How was the medical power to define intersexuality historically established? Central to this, according to the thesis of the article, was the construction of 'gender identity' as a psychic entity in the mid-20th century. "
  43. Michael Wunder : Intersexuality: Life between the sexes. In: From Politics and Contemporary History. Federal Agency for Civic Education, May 8, 2012, accessed on April 10, 2017 : “The German Ethics Council has submitted a statement on the subject of intersexuality. This was preceded by an intensive dialogue with those affected, self-help groups and scientists. "
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  45. Susanne Schröter : Boundaries between the sexes from an ethnological perspective. In: From Politics and Contemporary History. Federal Agency for Civic Education, May 8, 2012, accessed on April 10, 2017 : “Whether two or more genders are recognized depends on the respective cultural context. In many societies, especially outside of Europe, gender constructions differ from the patterns we are familiar with. "
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