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Germany's Bundesrat passes gender self-identification law

May 17, 2024

Lawmakers in Germany's upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat, have passed the country's Self Determination Act. The law makes it easier for people to change their registered gender.

A job advertisement with the abbreviations m/f/d (male, female, diverse) can be seen on a tablet
The law will make it much easier for Germans to have their gender entry and first name changedImage: Sven Hoppe/dpa/picture alliance

Germany's upper legislature, the Bundestag, on Friday gave the final approval to a law that smoothes the way for people to change their gender and first name by simply making a public declaration.

Opponents of the existing system, requiring a court decision, complain it is invasive, costly and humiliating.

What is the Self-Determination Act?

Under the current transsexual law, people may officially change their first name and gender only after they have been assessed by two psychiatrists and the court has given its permission.

The Self-Determination Act would allow these changes to be made in a simple procedure. The law defines a trans person as someone who does not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth, or not solely with that gender.

The legislation also applies to those who do not identify exclusively as male or female, termed nonbinary people.

The law would require people to inform registry offices three months before the changes are made.

In the case of those under the age of 14, only the person's legal representative would be able to apply. Those over 14 can file one themselves with the approval of their legal representatives. If the approval is not given, a family court can approve the changes if the official gender and name changes "do not go against the child's well-being."

The bill allows the operators of facilities such as gyms and changing rooms for women to continue to decide who has access to them.

With the new law, Germany is following the example of Spain, which in early 2023 passed a law allowing people over 16 years of age to change their legally registered gender without any medical supervision.

rc/ab (AFP, dpa)