Germany: Deutsche Bahn must offer third gender option for train tickets, court rules

ICE 4 in Berliner Hauptbahnhof. (Andre_de/Wikimedia Commons)
By John Cody
2 Min Read

The Higher Regional Court in Frankfurt is forcing Deutsche Bahn to offer customers a third gender option when buying tickets.

The court, concurring with a lower court ruling, found that the company should not require people who do not identify as being either a man or a woman to choose between the two classic gender categories, according to NTV. Deutsche Bahn has six months to implement the new ruling, or it can appeal to the Constitutional Court, which is Germany’s highest court.

The decision came following a lawsuit filed by a woman who described herself as “non-binary.” The gender entry on her birth certificate read “unspecified” and the customer felt discriminated against when buying a BahnCard because she had to choose between male and female categories on the form.

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The plaintiff in the case demanded provisional action and indemnity from Deutsche Bahn. A district court dealt with the case last August and ruled that the online form when purchasing the Bahncard constituted discrimination within the meaning of the General Equal Treatment Act. However, the plaintiff was not entitled to compensation. Deutsche Bahn appealed the decision.

In early December 2020, the lower Frankfurt district court had objected to the company’s customer forms. Having to choose between the man and woman options was discriminatory for people who did not feel they belonged to either gender, the lower court ruled. The court also recommended that Deutsche Bahn refrain from using gender-specific forms of address and opt to use a neutral greeting such as “Good morning.”

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