Female, male, diverse – in the future, everyone in Germany should be able to determine their gender and first name themselves in the civil status register and change it in a simple procedure at the registry office. This is the concept for a self-determination law that Federal Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP) and Family Minister Lisa Paus (Greens) presented on Thursday in Berlin.
It is intended to replace the transsexual law, which many people now perceive as outdated and discriminatory.
If the new regulation is implemented as planned, it will no longer matter whether the person is transgender, non-binary or intergender when it comes to entering gender and first names. Reports on sexual identity or a medical certificate should then no longer be required as a prerequisite for such a change.
Interhumans are people whose physical gender does not fit the medical norm of male or female bodies, but falls somewhere in between. Non-binary refers to people who have neither a male nor a female gender identity. Trans people do not feel that they belong to the gender assigned to them at birth.
For minors up to the age of 14, the legal guardians should submit the declaration of change to the registry office. Young people from the age of 14 should be able to submit the declaration themselves, but with the consent of their parents.
The key issues paper of the two ministries states the following with regard to possible disputed cases for the group of minors aged 14 and over:
“In order to protect the personal rights of young people, the family court can replace the decision of the parents at the request of the minor in cases in which the legal guardians do not agree, based on the best interests of the child – as in other constellations in family law.”
The President of the German Children’s Fund, Thomas Krüger, welcomed the planned change. He said it “should be indisputable that unnecessary referrals and medically unnecessary interventions can be dispensed with.” The lesbian and gay association also made a generally positive statement about the key points.
Federal board member Alfonso Pantisano told the newspapers of the Funke media group, however, that he was surprised that the legal guardians had to decide in the case of young people or, in case of doubt, the family court. “This is not the case with the choice of religion or profession. Then why should it be so with sex?”
To ensure that there is a serious decision behind the change in civil status law, Paus and Buschmann propose a one-year blocking period. This means that the new gender entry and first name are generally valid for at least one year.
Buschmann and Paus expressly pointed out that their draft would not contain any provisions on the question of any physical gender reassignment measures. Such measures would continue to be decided on the basis of specialist medical regulations.
The planned change in the law should also have no effect on the decision as to who competes as a woman or man in sporting competitions. The sports associations decided that, said Paus.
“The transgender law dates back to 1980 and is degrading for those affected,” she explained. When asked what happened to women who might feel unsafe in the sauna or in the changing room when doing sports when people who were previously men entered these rooms, the minister replied:
“Trans women are women, and that’s why I don’t see any further need for discussion.”
Trans people and non-binary people can currently only change their gender entry and first name by court order. In the process, two expert opinions must be obtained. People with variants in gender development can already make changes with a declaration at the registry office.
However, either a medical certificate or an affidavit is required.
Buschmann said: “The applicable law treats the people concerned as if they were sick. There is no justification for that.” Paus and Buschmann want the cabinet to decide on a draft self-determination law by the end of the year.
Many people who change their gender record are open about it. Those who do not want to do this will be protected from a “forced outing”, said Buschmann. According to Buschmann, if this very personal information is “pulled into the public domain” by an official, a fine will be due.
Compensation payments are also planned for transgender and intersex people who were affected by bodily harm or forced divorce as a result of previous legislation.
The procedure for changing the gender entry and the name must be as gentle and non-discriminatory as possible, said the deputy chairwoman of the Union faction, Andrea Lindholz (CSU). However, the federal government’s “radical proposal” is going far beyond this goal.
The envisaged possibility of an annual change of gender and name without a condition is absurd. Sports clubs and fitness studios, for example, could not simply deny people who were previously registered as male the use of women’s changing rooms. The protection of minors is also neglected, complained Lindholz.