In the Central Register of Civil Status in Austria (ZPR) it will be possible in future to choose between “female”, “male”, “divers”, “inter”, “open” and the complete deletion of the entry – however, these options are only available to intersexual people. Activists criticise that non-binary or transgender people are excluded.

The new decree on the third gender was announced this Wednesday by the Austrian Ministry of the Interior. For activists it is a success, but not every goal has been reached yet. Anyone who wants to vote for one of the new entries in the future must submit an expert opinion. This must include evidence of a physical variation in gender development.


Only a few demands implemented


In a press release the Association of Intergender People Austria (VIMÖ) described the decree as a “partial success”. Many of the demands which were conveyed by 64 organisations in an open letter to the interior minister Karl Nehammer in June had remained unfulfilled. For example, there were demands to allow changes to be made completely without an expert opinion – a self-disclosure at the registry office should have been sufficient.

Unfortunately this did not happen. On the positive side: Retraumatisation could be avoided, said VIMÖ. This is because the expert reports for the correction of the gender entry do not have to be issued by the experts* in the so-called VdG boards, which VIMÖ calls “ominous”. In the future, it will be sufficient to submit expert reports prepared earlier.

Another demand that was ignored: The third gender entry should have been open to all people, regardless of their individual physical gender characteristics. This was also not implemented. VIMÖ criticises a “fixation on physical sexual characteristics and their pathologisation” in the new decree.

Tobias Humer of VIMÖ warned:

“Furthermore, parents of intersex children are not free to choose a ‘female’ or ‘male’ entry for their child – which could increase the pressure for ‘unambiguous’ operations.

While Anton Wittmann from the HOSI Salzburg explained:

“We welcome the fact that with the new decree, in some cases no further medical assessments will be necessary. At the same time, however, pathologising diagnoses remain a prerequisite. A great opportunity has been missed here to provide an alternative gender entry for all people who do not find themselves in the binary gender picture”.

Meanwhile, Green politician Ewa Ernst-Dziedzic promised to continue the fight:

“The next step must be to open up these options to trans* persons as well and to remove unnecessary hurdles when changing civil status”.


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