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Germany makes it easier to change gender and name on legal documents

Author: Trudy Ring

Germany’s Parliament Friday passed a law making it easier for transgender and nonbinary people to change their name and gender marker on official documents.

When the law, known as the Self-Determination Act, takes effect in November, trans and nonbinary residents will be able to go to a registry office and order the changes. “No ‘expert’ opinions or medical certificates will be required,” a Human Rights Watch press release reports. “The applicant will be able to choose from several gender markers — male, female, or ‘diverse’ — or opt not to enter a gender at all.”

The process is open to people over 18, plus 14- to 18-year-olds who have the consent of parents or guardians, according to the BBC. Those under 14 must have their parents or guardians make the request.

The new law replaces one from 1980 under which those seeking to make such changes “to provide a local court with two ‘expert reports’ attesting to ‘a high degree of probability’ that the applicant will not want to revert to their previous legal gender,” HRW explains. The German Constitutional Court had already struck down some aspects of the 1980 law, such as a requirement for surgery.

The act also makes it illegal to disclose a person’s deadname except under certain circumstances — for instance, in the case of court proceedings or a police investigation.

Debate over the legislation “was both contentious and sometimes emotional,” Deutsch Welle reports.

“As trans people, we experience time and again that our dignity is made a matter of negotiation,” trans lawmaker Nyke Slawik told her colleagues, according to the publication.

Sven Lehmann, the government’s LGBTQ+ commissioner, noted, “For more than 40 years, the ‘transsexual law’ has caused a lot of suffering … and only because people want to be recognized as they are. And today we are finally putting an end to this.”

The legislation had the support of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s governing coalition.

Other countries that have adopted similarly simple procedures for gender recognition include Argentina, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and Uruguay, according to HRW.

“Germany has joined a growing list of countries that are abolishing pathologizing requirements for gender recognition, which have no place in diverse and democratic societies,” Cristian González Cabrera, senior LGBT rights researcher at HRW, said in the press release. “As populist politicians in Europe and beyond try to use trans rights as a political wedge issue, Germany’s new law sends a strong message that trans people exist and deserve recognition and protection, without discrimination.”

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Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Trudy Ring

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