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German Cabinet approves law easing gender, name changes

August 23, 2023

The German government has approved a law of self-determination allowing people to change their gender and name more easily.

Family Minister Lisa Paus and Justice Minister Marco Buschmann
The law is aimed at transgender, intersex and non-binary peopleImage: Kay Nietfeld/dpa/picture alliance

German Family Minister Lisa Paus said a new law easing the path for individuals to officially change their gender had been approved by the Cabinet on Wednesday, hailing it as "a big moment" for transgender and intersex people.

The proposed "Self-Determination Act" allows for changes to be made in a simple procedure at government registry offices.

Paus said the reform served "to protect minorities who have been discriminated against for a long time and is socio-political progress."

Under current rules, individuals must submit two psychological reports to change the entries with a district court making the final decision. People who have gone through the process have complained that it is lengthy, costly and humiliating.

"Everyone has a right to the state respecting their gender identity," Justice Minister Marco Buschmann said. "The current law harasses transgender people. We want to end this undignified situation."

How would the proposed process work?

People wishing to make the change would only have to submit a simple self-disclosure to the relevant authority.

The draft law envisages that the change must now be registered three months before the declaration is made. After the change, there is a one-year blocking period for a new change.

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For children under 14, the parents would submit the necessary declaration to the registry office. Young people aged 14 and over can do this themselves, but only with the consent of their parents. A family court would resolve conflicts within the family.

The reform would also prevent a person's previous gender from being revealed against their will, under the threat of a fine. However, the government says there are exceptions here, and that the law would not allow people to escape criminal prosecution by changing their name and gender. 

Who is the new law aimed at?

The new regulation is aimed at transgender, intersex and non-binary people.

Trans people are those who do not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth.

Intersex refers to people who have physical sex characteristics that are not exclusively male or female.

Non-binary means people who do not classify themselves as male or female according to conventional gender divisions.

rc/fb (dpa, AFP)

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