Humboldt University (HU) is being sued for discrimination against trans, intersex and non-binary students. (Detailed background here.) The university refuses its students to use self-chosen names on university documents “with external impact” – such as cafeteria card, student ID or certificate. As the Society for Freedom Rights (GFF) announced on Wednesday, it has therefore filed a complaint with the administrative court. It is likely to be the first class action lawsuit under the Berlin State Anti-Discrimination Act enacted in 2020.

“The forced use of the former, now discarded name (deadname) is discriminatory for those affected and violates their fundamental rights,” said the GFF. “Only using the self-chosen name can prevent those affected from being outed as trans, inter or non-binary against their will or being addressed with their discarded name.”

The HU informed the Tagesspiegel that since the beginning of the current summer semester it has been possible, at least within the university, to use the chosen name; the GFF had already officially complained about the practice of the HU in February, the lawsuit is now the next step. With regard to external documents, the university asked the administration of Science Senator Ulrike Gote (Greens) for information, explained HU spokesman Hans-Christoph Keller.

“Despite several inquiries, the responsible senate administration still believes that the use of the self-chosen name in cases with external effects is illegal towards the Humboldt University,” said Keller. The Senate Department for Science, Health, Nursing and Equal Opportunities has not yet answered a joint letter from the university, student representatives and affected students in March.