Germany is introducing legislation that will allow anyone over the age of 14 to alter their registered gender, the law will also make deadnaming (referring to a transgender person by their previous name) a crime.
The current “transsexual law” as it is named, dates back to 1981 and treats gender identity as a medical problem. Gender can only be changed on official documents after two psychiatric reports which can subject trans people to invasive and extensive questioning.
Lisa Paus, the German minister for family affairs, said: “In many ways we are already further advanced as a society than our laws are. It’s high time to adapt the legal framework to our social reality.”
Tessa Ganserer, a Green party MP from Nuremberg who in 2018 became the first openly transgender politician in any of Germany’s legislatures, celebrated the reformation.
“I don’t want anyone to have to go through such a demeaning process any more, and I can’t subject myself to this process,” she said. “A person’s dignity and identity are the very last thing that should be taken away from them.”
The reformed law has been met with little backlash from both the conservative opposition and the right-leaning press, marking a significant shift in attitudes in the country given that as recently as 2007, a person had to be unmarried in order for them to legally change their gender.
This meant that married people had to divorce their spouses in order to gain legal gender recognition.
Paus also said: “The existing transsexual law has been violating the rights and dignity of transgender people for more than 40 years. Now there will be streamlined rules and a straightforward official process for everyone whose officially registered gender doesn’t correspond to their gender identity.”
This is just one of the ways Germany is making legal adjustments to simplify the lives of trans people, earlier this year German football association Deutscher fussball-bund passed a rule allowing transgender football players to choose which gender team they play for.
Whilst, in 2017, Germany added a third legal gender — “divers” — to the options on official forms and in March 2021, Germany passed legislation to recognise and protect intersex children.