German parliament votes to make it easier for people to change name and gender

12 April 2024, 15:04

Germany Transgender Rights
Germany Transgender Rights. Picture: PA

The ‘self-determination law’ will allow adults to change their first name and legal gender at registry offices without further formalities.

The German parliament has approved legislation that will make it easier for transgender, intersex and nonbinary people to change their name and gender in official records.

The “self-determination law,” one of several social reforms that chancellor Olaf Scholz’s liberal-leaning coalition government pledged when it took office in late 2021, is set to take effect on November 1.

Germany, the European Union’s most populous nation, follows several other countries in making the change.

Germany Transgender Rights
Demonstrators protest demanding a law to protect the rights of the transgender community outside of the parliament Bundestag building in Berlin (Ebrahim Noroozi/AP)

Parliament’s lower house, the Bundestag, approved it by 374 votes to 251 with 11 abstentions.

The German legislation will allow adults to change their first name and legal gender at registry offices without further formalities.

They will have to notify the office three months before making the change.

The existing “transsexual law,” which dates back four decades, requires individuals who want to change gender on official documents to first obtain assessments from two experts “sufficiently familiar with the particular problems of transsexualism” and then a court decision.

Since that law was drawn up, Germany’s top court has struck down other provisions that required transgender people to get divorced and sterilised, and to undergo gender-transition surgery.

“For over 40 years, the ‘transexual law’ has caused a lot of suffering… and only because people want to be recognised as they are,” Sven Lehmann, the government’s commissioner for queer issues, told legislators “And today we are finally putting an end to this.”

Germany chancellor Olaf Scholz
The self-determination law is one of several social reforms that chancellor Olaf Scholz’s liberal-leaning coalition government pledged when it took office in late 2021 (Markus Schreiber/AP)

The new legislation focuses on individuals’ legal identities. It does not involve any revisions to Germany’s rules for gender-transition surgery.

The new rules will allow minors 14 years and older to change their name and legal gender with approval from their parents or guardians – if they don’t agree, teenagers could ask a family court to overrule them.

In the case of children younger than 14, parents or guardians would have to make registry office applications on their behalf.

After a formal change of name and gender takes effect, no further changes would be allowed for a year. The new legislation provides for operators of, for example, gyms and changing rooms for women to continue to decide who has access.

Nyke Slawik, a transgender woman elected to parliament in 2021 for the Greens, one of the governing parties, recounted her experience of going through the current system a decade ago.

She said she had had enough of being asked “is that your brother’s ID?” when she had to identify herself.

Germany Transgender Rights
Demonstrators protest demanding a law to protect the rights of the transgender community outside of the parliament Bundestag building in Berlin (Ebrahim Noroozi/AP)

“Two years, many conversations with experts and one district court process later, it was done — the name change went through, and I was nearly 2,000 euros poorer,” she said.

“As trans people, we repeatedly experience our dignity being made a matter for negotiation.”

The mainstream conservative opposition faulted the legislation for what it described as a lack of safeguards against abuse and a lack of protection for young people.

Conservative Susanne Hierl complained that the government is “ignoring the justified concerns of many women and girls”.

“You want to satisfy a loud but very small group and, in doing so, are dividing society,” Ms Hierl said.

Martin Reichardt of the far-right Alternative for Germany blasted what he called “ideological nonsense”.

Among others, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Spain already have similar legislation.

By Press Association

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

Venezuela Election

Venezuela revoke EU invitation to observe nation’s presidential election in July

Garry Conille

Transitional council in Haiti selects new PM for country under siege by gangs

Former US pesident Donald Trump sits with lawyers while he attends his trial at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City

Trump trial: Prosecutor focuses on ‘cover-up’ while defence attacks key witness

Smoke billows after an explosion in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel

Israeli strikes continue near Gaza’s Rafah

Aid pier

US-built aid pier in Gaza will need to be removed after damage from rough seas

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky

Zelensky expected in Normandy for D-Day commemorations, says Macron

Former US president Donald Trump speaks to members of the media upon arriving at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York

Key witness lied, Donald Trump’s lawyer tells jurors during closing arguments

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky

Zelensky secures further promise of military aid as he continues EU tour

US Army soldiers assigned to the 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary), US Navy sailors assigned to Amphibious Construction Battalion 1, and Israel Defence Forces placing the Trident Pier on the

Gaza aid via temporary pier suspended after rough seas cause damage – officials

Top NFL player accused of sexual assault by two flight attendants aboard London-bound flight

Top NFL player accused of sexual assault by two flight attendants aboard London-bound flight

Producer Albert S Ruddy appears backstage after his film Million Dollar Baby won best picture at the 77th Academy Awards on February 27 2005 in Los Angeles

Albert Ruddy, Oscar-winning producer of The Godfather, dies aged 94

Sam Altman

OpenAI boss Sam Altman joins Giving Pledge

Robert De Niro speaks to reporters in support of President Joe Biden across the street from former president Donald Trump’s criminal trial in New York

Biden campaign sends De Niro to Trump trial to put focus on 2021 Capitol attack

A collapsed building is fenced off in Palma de Majorca, Spain

Majorca building involved in fatal collapse ‘lacked proper authorisation’

'It’s enthralling to me in a sort of perverse way': Benedict Cumberbatch on playing Dominic Cummings

Benedict Cumberbatch: Playing unravelling characters like Dominic Cummings is 'enthralling in a perverse way'

Virgin Australia plane tail

Passenger who 'went bananas' and 'ran through plane naked before knocking over attendant' is arrested