“Today is a good day for freedom and diversity in our country,” Germany’s Family Minister Lisa Paus and Justice Minister Marco Buschmann jointly announced at the beginning of July when they presented the Self-Determination Act.
It is supposed to go through the legislative process soon before the Bundestag members go on vacation. Every German will thus be able to change their gender once a year. All they have to do is stop by the registry office. The court will no longer rule on it, nor will the person have to undergo surgery.
The law is supposed to replace a legal norm from 1980, which, according to the Federal Ministry of Justice, is “essentially unconstitutional.”
“For the disabled, the law is humiliating. We will finally replace it with a modern law of self-determination. The Self-Determination Act will improve the lives of transgender people and recognize gender diversity,” said Family Minister Lisa Paus. “In many areas, society is further ahead of legislation. As a government, we have decided to create a legal framework for an open, diverse and modern society,” she added.
According to Justice Minister Marko Buschmann, the law is part of the diversity of life. The current one treats the affected persons as if they were sick. There is no justification for this, ministers claim.
The Self-Determination Act is intended to provide, for the first time, uniform treatment for transgender, intersex, and non-binary people to change their genders and first names at will. Subsequently, Germans will be able to change their gender and first name simply by visiting the registry office. Submitting a medical report or obtaining expert opinions in court proceedings would no longer be required under the proposed legislation.
However, the law envisages some limitations so that the registry centers are not overcrowded. Germans will only be able to change their gender once a year. The Self-Determination Act applies exclusively to changing gender and first names. If a person also requests a change of their sexual organs, it will be decided based on a professional medical opinion.
For minors under 14, or if the minor is incapable of legal acts, the declaration of change will be submitted to the registry office by legal representatives. Teenagers older than 14 will be able to file the statement themselves with the consent of their legal representatives, but if the parents or other legal representatives do not agree, the court will intervene.
The bill also stipulates that the procedure will be kept confidential, with any publication being sanctioned by a fine.
A moderate majority of Germans, 46 percent, approve of the government’s plans, while 41 percent of respondents reject the law, according to a representative survey by the YouGov Institute.
Some feminist organizations are absolutely against the law, and among political parties, only the opposition AfD is against it. According to one of the party representatives, Stephan Brandner, the law “has nothing to do with freedom but is an expression of blatant denial of reality. In biology, laws cannot simply be ignored,” Brandner claimed.
Some political parties have partial objections. The CDU, for example, refuses to cancel expert opinions, especially for children and teenagers. In the region of Saxony-Anhalt, the SPD is the only one in the governing coalition approving the law without reservations. The local CDU warns that the reform could lead to “arbitrariness,” and the FDP wants to make adjustments to ensure that no one can hide from the authorities or creditors when they change their first name.