Germany will become the first European country to recognize an indeterminable “third gender” on its birth certificates. New legislation set to be implemented in November will prevent medical staff from automatically assigning male or female genders to newborn babies without “gender-defining physical characteristics.”

According to France 24, the law aims to protect the one in 5,000 people in Europe who is born with both female and male genitalia. Formerly known as hermaphrodites, people born with both male and female characteristics are now referred to as “intersex.” In 2011, the European Commission released an official report on how being intersex is determined by one’s biological makeup rather than a psychological or sociological predisposition.

“These features can manifest themselves in secondary sexual characteristics such as muscle mass, hair distribution, breasts and stature; primary sexual characteristics such as reproductive organs and genitalia; and/or in chromosomal structures and hormones,” said the report.

About six weeks ago, Australia became the first country in the world to legally recognize a third gender. While Germany’s law will only apply to birth certificates, the Australian law will apply to all official documents including passports. Though many hail Germany’s new law as a triumph in combatting intersex discrimination and removing the stigma surrounding intersex individuals, some warn that limiting it to birth certificates could cause serious problems in the long term.

According to The Huffington Post, a German family law journal warned that introducing the third gender option only on birth certificates will cause “bureaucratic headaches” for people needing other legal documents because they will still be forced to choose a male or female gender. The journal suggests introducing a third gender across the board to remedy the problem.

In the meantime, supporters of trans and intersex rights say that the new law is a step in the right direction, but in general European countries have a ways to go.

"Things are moving slower than they should at the European level,” said Silvan Agius, policy director of human rights organization ILGA Europe. "Though Brussels has ramped up efforts to promote awareness of trans and intersex discrimination, I would like to see things speed up. Germany's move will put more pressure on Brussels. That can only be a good thing."