Gender “neutral” recognition refused by French Court of Cassation

On May 4, 2017, the Court of Cassation refused to register a “neutral” gender on civil registries, after an individual requested to have his birth certificate modified for this status instead of masculine.  

The unsuccessful 60-year-old plaintiff was born “intersex”, meaning that medically it is difficult to determine the biological sex. According to his doctor, he was born with both masculine and feminine genitalia – a “rudimentary vagina”, a “micro-penis” and no testicles. His parents gave him a boy’s name and his birth certificate was registered with “masculine gender”. Lately, in August 2015, at his request, the Court in Tours allowed his birth certificate gender to be changed from “masculine” to “neutral”. But the state prosecutor appealed that decision, since French law does not allow recognition of a “neutral” sex to be listed on birth certificates. In March 2016, this decision was overturned by the Orleans Appeals Court. The Court of Cassation was then charged with deliberating the following issue: Is a “neutral sex” status allowable on birth registries?

By its refusal, the highest jurisdiction upheld that French law only allows male or female sexes to be listed on civil registries. They argued that such binarity has a legitimate objective, for both social and legal purposes, and upholds a basic principle. “If a judge were to recognize the existence of a third sexual category, there would be severe repercussions in French law, which is founded on the binarity of sexes and would thus imply modifying numerous legislative rules.”

Approximately 200 children per year are born in France with this type of condition. Some cases are rather complicated and may require careful and tactful medical and psychological accompaniment for children and their families to discern their sexual orientation.

Founder and member of the Organization Intersex International, Vincent Guillot, declares: “Intersex associations do not challenge the issues related to a “third sex”, “third gender, or “neutral gender”. Their unique request is to completely abolish listing sex or gender nomination altogether on civil registries and administrative documents for all citizens.”

As a philosopher, Bérénice Levet emphasizes: « The Civil Code represents a major battlefield for militant gender zealots.”  As author of “The Gender Theory or the Dream World of Angels” she explains: “Recognizing a neutral gender status would finalize the (post-modern) deconstruction process. It would break off any relationship with one’s physical origin. (…)  Those in favor of a “neutral” gender status appear to misunderstand the burden for a child to enter life without having a sexual identity”.


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