German Cabinet approves self-determination bill


Central Europe


In Germany it will become easier to switch from male to female and vice versa. Photo Unsplash, Alysa Bajenaru

The German Federal Cabinet has approved the draft of a new self-determination law.

The approved proposal makes it easier for transgender people to change their legal gender and adjust their names accordingly. This law also applies to minors, NZZ reports.

The new law is to replace the current transsexual law, which dates from 1981. Under that legislation, people who want legal gender change must go to court and collect two expert opinions. Now, the change can be made at the registry office.

People older than 14 years old can submit a declaration to the registry office themselves with parental consent. If parents do not agree to their child's wish, a court will have to decide. Children under 14 cannot change their own gender, but their parents or legal guardians can do this for them, even when the child has not consented to it.

The implementation of the new law is scheduled for November 24, 2024.


Before the summer, the German Ministry of Interior thwarted the plans of the traffic light coalition for a quick implementation of a self-determination law. If people can change their name and legal gender with just one request at the registry office, criminals could easily go into hiding by changing their gender identity, the Minister of Interior objected to the draft of the planned self-determination law. As a result, the proposal could not be passed through the Cabinet before the summer recess, PRO reports.

The Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Seniors Citizens, Women and Youth and the Federal Ministry of Justice solved these concerns and received approval from the Ministry of Interior, as reported by Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

One of the changes in the draft is that authorities "who are interested in seamlessly tracing identities are also able to do so after a change in the gender entry." To that end, registry offices are required to inform relevant authorities when someone changes his or her gender.


In addition, public saunas can deny access to individuals by appealing to the protection of privacy. That clause is meant to satisfy women's rights activists who feared that men would enter women's spaces under the guise of having the female gender legally.

Also, to avoid hasty decisions, the wish for a legal gender change must be announced to the registry office three months in advance. The previous draft specified that the change could be made immediately at the office and was revocable until three months after.

Legitimate concerns

Yet, the newly approved draft is not uncontroversial either, NZZ writes. Christian Democratic MP Christoph de Vries said to the newspaper that he finds it "disappointing that the legitimate concerns of women's and lesbian associations about the possible intrusion of biological men into female shelters are simply brushed aside, although these cases have already happened abroad." De Vries also finds it irresponsible that minors can change their gender even without parental consent.

Child and adolescent psychiatrist and psychotherapist Alexander Korte from Munich has treated gender dysphoria patients for years. And even though he believes that people with gender problems should get more rights, he is not happy with the self-determination law. "It is not about self-determination; it is about confirmation by others. Others shall be obliged to confirm the sex one proclaims oneself to be." He warns that many minors who self-diagnose themselves as transgender change their mind later. Korte also doubts whether all children older than 14 are mature enough to make a decision with such far-reaching consequences.



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