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Germany proposes law to ease gender change

May 10, 2023

The current law is decades old and requires the assessment of two experts and a court decision to legally change one's gender. The draft rules do away with this.

People take part in the annual Christopher Street Day (CSD) LGBTQ Pride march, in Berlin, Germany
Germany's governing coalition had promised to abolish the "transsexual law" when it came to powerImage: Dan Herrick/REUTERS

The German government on Tuesday, presented a draft self-determination law which, if accepted, will make it easier for people to change their name and gender legally.

The proposed law will put an end to the decade-old rules that require Germans to get expert assessments and a court's authorization. Under the new rules, adults would be able to change their names and legal gender at the registry offices without any other formalities.

'Another big step forward'

"We have taken another big step forward with the self-determination act and with it also in the protection against discrimination and the rights of transgender, intersex and nonbinary people," Germany's Minister for Family Affairs Lisa Paus (Greens), said in May when the changes were first presented. "This way we can give back some of the dignity to those who have been deprived of it for decades," she added. 

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

The Lesbian and Gay Association in Germany (LSVD), welcomed the publication of the draft

"Affected people and their interest groups have been waiting a long time for this next step, which has been postponed several times since the presentation of the key points paper in June 2022," said Mara Geri, an LSVD executive board member.

The current transsexual law came about in 1981 and requires people to obtain assessments from two experts whose training makes them "sufficiently familiar with the particular problems of transsexualism," and a court decision to legally change their gender.

Public divided on the issue

Under the new law, children below the age of 14 will require their legal guardians to submit the change of declarations. Those 14 or above can do it themselves, but need a letter of support from their legal guardians.

A survey taken in 2022, however, showed there was a mixed response towards the new bill in the public. Carried out by YouGov for the Welt am Sonntag newspaper, the poll showed 46% of respondents in favor of the plan and 41% rejecting it. 

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mk/jsi (AP, dpa)

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