German government introduces bill to fast-track legal gender changes
Berlin has introduced a new bill allowing people to legally change their gender more easily. The move permitting individuals to alter their gender once a year has been blasted by critics as a “story from a madhouse.”
The bill greenlighted by the federal cabinet on Wednesday has been welcomed by Family Minister Lisa Paus. The reform would protect “minorities that have been discriminated against for a long time,” she said. The initiative was also supported by Justice Minister Marco Buschmann, who said every person “has a right for a state respecting their gender identity.”
Under current regulations that were adopted back in the 1980s, a person wishing to change their legal gender has to undergo two psychological assessments and then present relevant reports to a district court, which makes the final decision. Those going through the procedure have complained that it is “lengthy, costly and humiliating,” German media reported.
The proposed legislation would allow anyone to change their gender on official documents by simply submitting a self-declaration report to a registry office. The change would take effect within three months. There will be no upper limit on how many times a person can change their gender throughout their lifetime. However, such changes would be allowed only once every 12 months.
Minors aged 14 will be able to submit such requests on their own, as long as their parents do not oppose the move. For children under 14, parents would be allowed to submit the necessary papers to a registry office. A dispute between a child and their parents on the issue would be resolved in a family court.
According to the media, a registry office would also have to provide information about any gender-change request to the law enforcement authorities to prevent criminals from changing their identity to escape justice.
The legislation has sparked “fierce” debates among politicians and public figures, the media said. “The idea of being able to determine your gender every year can only be described as a story from the madhouse,” said former German transport and infrastructure minister, Alexander Dobrindt.
Christina Stumpp, the deputy secretary general of the country’s largest opposition party, the conservative Christian Democratic Union, warned that the government was neglecting its duty to protect minors, who are often plagued by doubts about their identity. Young people need support and guidance “on such serious issues,” she said, adding that the proposed legislation just ignores this fact.
However, Left Party MP Kathrin Vogler took issue with the bill demanding that law enforcement be informed about each gender-change request. “I doubt that these and other regulations are in line with fundamental rights,” she said.