Germany plans to allow gender changes for everyone above 14

A participant of the Christopher Street Day (CSD) Parade prepares himself in the streets of Germany's LGBTQ capital of Cologne, Germany, Sunday, July 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
By Dénes Albert
5 Min Read

Everyone in Germany will be able to freely change their gender and first name from the age of 14, according to a draft law that was unveiled on Thursday by Federal Minister of Justice Marco Buschmann and Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women, and Youth.

“All three government parties — the Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens and the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) — agree that the legislation on the status of transsexuals should be replaced by a new law,” according to a statement released by both ministers.

From left, German Construction Minister Klara Geywitz, German Justice Minister Marco Buschmann and German Economy and Climate Minister Robert Habeck address the media during a joint statement after the weekly cabinet meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, May 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

Now, the so-called Self-Determination Act will replace the old law, which Germany’s left-wing government claims is discriminatory and outdated, according to Hungarian news outlet Magyar Nemzet. According to the basic principles developed during negotiations between the governing parties and the relevant ministries, the new law must stipulate that everyone from the age of 14 can independently and freely determine their gender and first name through a simple registry office procedure, without any medical examination or expert opinion.

The law is expected to raise some potentially challenging issues, such as trans women participating in women’s sports, a move that was recently blocked by a number of international sporting bodies. In addition, people may change their gender during divorce proceedings to procure a more favorable outcome. In other countries like Switzerland, men have even changed their gender in order to retire early and receive their pension.

Buschmann said that although it is statistically rare, it is “very normal” that there are people whose sexual identity differs from their biological sex.

“For many, many decades, we treated these people as patients, as if something was wrong with them, but this pathologizing is an incorrect approach that must be abandoned, as every person deserves to be treated with respect,” Buschmann said.

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He said the purpose of the new law is not to subvert social relations but to fulfill the central promise of the constitution that everyone has equal freedom and equal dignity.

The German law is notably different from the path taken by countries such as Hungary, which in 2020 voted to fix the biological gender for all citizens at birth as their permanent gender. Hungarians, for example, cannot change their gender in government documents.

In Germany, it is not only the political class that has embraced transgenderism but also the media. As Remix News previously reported, German public television has produced a wide range of pro-transgender content without discussing the severe side effects commonly associated with gender transitioning surgery and puberty blocking drugs, such as mental illness, cancer, and osteoporosis.

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Paus, a Green party politician, said that society is ahead of legislation in many matters, and the Self-Determination Act will close this gap. She said the law will not only improve the lives of transgender people but also recognize the diversity of genders. The minister added that ensuring the privacy of citizens must also extend to individuals changing their gender and first name since the new law cannot mean “forced disclosure.” That is why the law will mandate a fine if any authority, organization, or private individual discloses that someone has changed their gender or first name without the person’s consent.

The minister also claimed that the current law introduced in 1980 has caused suffering, including forcing people to divorce or undergo major surgery just to be able to recognize their gender identity.

“It is time to apologize and provide compensation for these injustices,” said the German minister for family affairs, senior citizens, women, and youth.

West Germany introduced its pioneering gender law in 1980, which has applied to the whole country since the 1990 reunification. In 2008, the German Constitutional Court also ruled that first names no longer have to be gender-specific.

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