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German public divided on gender change bill

July 24, 2022

The German government is calling for a new "self-determination" law that would make it easier for people to legally change their gender and name. But not everyone is convinced.

A rainbow flag being hung in front of a cathedral
Legally changing one's gender and name is still a cumbersome process in Germany Image: Oliver Berg/dpa/picture alliance

A German government proposal on  people legally changing their gender is prompting a mixed response in public, according to a survey published Sunday.

The proposed "self-determination" law outlined by the Justice and Family Ministries would replace a decades-old "transsexual law," which requires transgender and non-binary people to receive a court order and two expert opinions to change their gender and name on official documents. 

Germany's governing coalition promised to abolish the "transsexual law" when it came to power in December 2021.

The law has been in effect in Germany for 40 years. It has been called "degrading and archaic" by the transgender community in Germany. 

Justice Minister Marco Buschmann said he expected the government to approve the law before the end of the year, after which it would still need to pass through parliament.

The new proposal calls for a person's legal status to be changed through simple self-declaration. And to ensure people are serious about the decision, another change will not be allowed for a year after the first change is registered.

Pride and LGBTQ Germany

Less than half in favor

However, a survey carried out by YouGov for the Welt am Sonntag newspaper showed 46% of respondents in favor of the plan and 41% rejecting it.

The representative survey was conducted over two days in July, and 1,796 people answered questions online.

Another aspect of the draft law says teenagers over 14 years old can submit the declaration themselves, with their parents' consent.

YouGov found that 48% of participants tended to reject or completely rejected this part of the proposal, while 39% tended to or completely supported it.

German Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP) told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper that the issue at stake is maintaining "a central promise of the Basic Law: the promise of equal freedom and equal dignity for all people."

Family Affairs Minister Lisa Paus (Greens) said that Trans and intersex people "have to wait for decades to be enabled to live a self-determined life according to their gender identity."

"It is more than overdue that we adapt the legal framework to the social reality," she added.

Legal records in Germany have three options for gender: female, male, and "divers," which loosely translates to  "other."

wmr/dj (dpa, KNA)

Correction: A previous version of this article translated the German word "divers" as "miscellaneous." A more accurate translation would be "other."

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