Germany proposes rules to ease legal changes of gender

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The German government presented a proposed law on Tuesday which will make it easier for people to change their name and gender legally.

The law would end decades-old rules which require expert assessments and a court’s authorisation.

Under the planned “self-determination law”, adults would be able to change their first name and legal gender at register offices without further formalities.

“We have taken another big step forward with the self-determination act and with it also in the protection against discrimination and the rights of transgender, intersex and non-binary people,” said Germany’s minister for families Lisa Paus.

“This way we can give back some of the dignity to those who have been deprived of it for decades.”

Germany Politics
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, right, talks to Family Minister Lisa Paus, left, during a weekly cabinet meeting at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany. (Markus Schreiber/AP Photo)

They would then require a court decision to change the gender on official documents.

Germany’s top court has struck down other provisions which required transgender people to get divorced, sterilised and to undergo gender-transition surgery.

“Transgender people have been affected by discrimination and undignified treatment for far too long — we will finally put this condition behind us,” said Germany’s justice minister Marco Buschmann.

The new government proposal declares that for children under the age of 14, legal guardians have to submit the declaration of change, while teenagers aged 14 and older should be able to submit the declaration of change themselves — but it should include the support of their guardians.

In Scotland, First Minister Humza Yousaf last month said he will challenge the British government over its decision to block a law making it easier for people to change their gender on official documents.

The passage of Scotland’s bill in December was hailed by transgender rights activists but vetoed by the British government, which argued it could undermine UK-wide equality legislation that guarantees women and girls access to single-sex spaces such as changing rooms and shelters.

First Minister’s Questions
First Minister of Scotland Humza Yousaf in the main chamber during First Minster’s Questions at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood, Edinburgh. (Jane Barlow, PA)

It would also speed up legal recognition of the change from two years to three months for adults and to six months for people aged 16 and 17.

Spain passed a law earlier this year that allows people over 16 to change their legally registered gender without any medical supervision.

Minors aged 12-13 need a judge’s authorisation to change, while those aged 14 and 16 must be accompanied by their parents or legal guardians.

On Tuesday, Spain’s Constitutional Court said it will consider a legal challenge lodged by the far-right Vox party against the new law.

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