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Germany unveils plans for simpler gender change process

June 30, 2022

Transgender people in Germany will have an easier time formally changing their gender and name under a new government plan. Self-determination would replace the requirement for two expert reports and court approval.

LGBTQ flag over Cologne Cathedral
Germany could simplify its requirements regarding name and gender changesImage: Christoph Hardt/Geisler-Fotopress/picture alliance

The German government on Thursday unveiled plans to make it easier for transgender people to have the first name and gender they identify with legally recognized.

The move was announced by Family Affairs Minister Lisa Paus during a press conference in Berlin.

The proposed "self-determination" law would replace Germany's "transsexual law," which requires people to go to court and provide two expert reports, usually from psychotherapists, for their first name and gender to be changed on official documents. The law has been in effect in Germany for 40 years.

Under plans for the new proposed law, an adult applicant can go to their local registry office and declare the change. Children aged 14 and over would also be allowed to do so with permission from their parents or legal guardians.

A number of other European countries, such as Belgium, Denmark, and Switzerland, already allow legal gender status to be changed through self-declaration.

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

What did the German government say about the new law?

"The right to live a self-determined life is fundamental to all people," Paus said during the press conference.

She added that the current procedures are "not just lengthy and expensive but also deeply humiliating. But above all, they are completely superfluous."

"We live in a free and diverse society that is already further along in many places than our laws are. It's about time that we adapt the legal framework to societal reality," she said.

Paus said that after a formal change of gender is registered, no further changes would be allowed for a year. This is intended to "ensure the seriousness of the desire to change."

Germany's family affairs minister said the law would allow for fines in cases where a person's gender or name change is disclosed without their permission.

sdi/sms (AP, AFP)

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