The cornerstones of the new Self-Determination Act were presented in Berlin today. This is a day I and many other trans, inter and non-binary people have been waiting for!

Nowadays, if you want to change your name and civil status, you have to go through the so-called Transsexual Act (TSG). Although much of the forty-year-old law has been declared unconstitutional in recent years, it still stands to this day.

Many trans people who go through the TSG experience the process – which usually costs those affected a four-digit amount – as humiliating, invasive and traumatizing. What kind of absurd idea is it anyway, having to prove to two experts what gender I am?

It’s been almost five years since I came out as a trans man. At the age of 31 I said my new – my real – name for the first time in a Starbucks. A barista wrote it on the paper cup, and a photo of it ended up on my social channels – “I wish you would call me Linus from now on” it said.

Then I went to the hairdresser and then bought myself a new wardrobe. I started taking testosterone, which has been injected every 12 weeks since then. Last year I finally had my mastectomy, and the following summer I was able to swim shirtless and lie on the beach for the first time. It was a feeling of freedom that I had longed for so badly.

But one of the most important changes in recent years was my name and marital status change. It was only afterwards that I realized how stressful and exhausting life with false ID documents is.

As long as my old name was still on my ID card, many everyday situations were often a stressful challenge: every trip to the authorities and doctor’s surgeries was an exertion for me – just like booking a train ticket, paying with my EC card or picking up a parcel in the post. Everywhere I had to explain myself again and again. I finally don’t have to anymore.

I was lucky that I didn’t have to change my name via the TSG, but went via paragraph 45b. This paragraph was actually meant for intersex and non-binary people before trans people started using it too. All I needed was a certificate from my family doctor, after which I received a new birth certificate from the registry office for which I only had to pay 25 euros instead of more than 1000 euros.

After a few months, the registry offices were asked to no longer accept the certificate from trans people. I was lucky, many others weren’t – but we all deserve the right to have our real names on our ID cards. We all deserve to finally be able to decide about ourselves, our name and our gender entry. Today was a very important step towards that.