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German Parliament Votes to Make It Easier for Trans People to Change Their Legal Gender

2 minute read

The German Parliament approved a law on Friday that will make it much easier for people to change their legal gender identities and first names.

The new law, which goes into effect on Nov. 1, allows trans people to change their legal gender by filling out a simple self-disclosure form to inform the registry offices. Under the previous law, trans people had to first be assessed by two psychiatrists and obtain permission from a court before they could legally change their gender. But now, under the self-determination act, name and gender changes will be processed within three months of filing the self-disclosure form. Individuals will also be able to change their legal gender identity to non-binary.

For children under the age of 14, the law will require parents to submit all relevant documentation, while children over the age of 14 would be able to submit the documentation themselves with the approval of their legal representatives. If the child’s legal representatives do not approve of the change, the child can still override their decision if they get approval from a family court. Once the person’s name and gender are changed, they cannot be changed again for at least one year.

The previous law in place dates back to 1980, and has been criticized by many trans activists as archaic and dehumanizing. German lawmaker, Nyke Slawik, who is transgender, said that under the current law, she spent over $2,000 obtaining assessments from doctors in order to change her legal gender. 

“We finally want to make it easier," said Slawik on ARD television. “Many other countries have gone this way, and Germany is simply following suit in significantly simplifying this registration.”

In 2023, Spain passed a law that allows individuals over the age of 16 to change their legal genders without any medical professionals’ involvement. Similarly in the U.K., the Scottish parliament passed a law that allows individuals to change their legal gender via a self-declaration so long as they are above the age of 16.

The bill has nevertheless come under attack by Germany’s right wing parties, and the German public remains divided on the issue. A poll from YouGov for the Welt am Sonntag newspaper showed that 46% of respondents were in favor of the bill while 41% against it.

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