Germany plans to relax rules on formal gender reassignment

BERLIN (AP) — The German government on Thursday presented plans to make it easier for transgender people to formally change their name and gender, ending decades-old rules that require them to receive expert assessments and permission from a court.

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

The existing “transgender law”, which came into effect in 1981, currently requires individuals to receive assessments from two experts whose training and experience “provide them with “adequate familiarity with the specific issues of transsexuality” and then a court order to find the gender on official documents. to change .

Over the years, Germany’s Supreme Court has overturned other provisions requiring transgender people to divorce and be sterilized and undergo gender transition surgery.

The existing law “breathes the spirit of the 1970s,” said German minister for families, Lisa Paus. “At the time, the state wanted to help people who were considered psychologically ill, and set high thresholds for this.”

The current requirements “are not just tedious and expensive; they are also deeply humiliating, but above all they are completely unnecessary,” Pope told reporters in Berlin.

The proposed new rule states that minors aged 14 and over can change their name and gender with the consent of their parents or guardians; if they disagree, teens can ask a family court to dismiss them.

In the case of children under the age of 14, parents or guardians should file an application on their behalf at the registry office.

Pope said that after a formal change of name and gender is registered, no further changes will be allowed for a year, a provision intended to “ensure the seriousness of the desire to change”.

The minister said the ordinance also allows for fines in cases where information about a person’s gender or name change is disclosed without their consent.

Justice Minister Marco Buschmann said he is confident that legislation incorporating the changes will be presented to cabinet later this year. It must then be approved by the lower house of parliament, in which Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s governing coalition of three social liberal parties has a comfortable majority.

The change is the second in a series of planned liberalization reforms that Scholz’s government has implemented since taking office in December. Last week, lawmakers voted to end a ban on “advertising” abortions, which in the past has resulted in doctors being sued for providing information about the procedure to potential patients.

The coalition government plans to pass legislation later this year to legalize the sale of cannabis for recreational purposes. It also aims to ease the path to German citizenship, lift restrictions on dual citizenship and lower the minimum voting age in national and European Union elections from 18 to 16.