Berlin has introduced a new bill that would make it easier for individuals to legally change their gender. Under the proposed legislation, people would be able to alter their gender on official documents by submitting a self-declaration report to a registry office. The change would take effect within three months. Currently, individuals who wish to change their legal gender have to undergo two psychological assessments and present relevant reports to a district court for a final decision. This process has been criticized as lengthy, costly, and humiliating.
The bill, which was greenlighted by the federal cabinet on Wednesday, has been welcomed by Family Minister Lisa Paus. She argues that the reform would protect “minorities that have been discriminated against for a long time.” Justice Minister Marco Buschmann also supports the initiative, stating that every person has a right to a state that respects their gender identity.
The proposed legislation would allow individuals to change their gender as many times as they want throughout their lifetime, with a restriction of once every 12 months. Minors aged 14 and above would be able to submit gender-change requests on their own, unless their parents oppose the move. For children under 14, parents would be responsible for submitting the necessary papers to a registry office. In case of a dispute between a child and their parents on the issue, a family court would intervene to resolve the matter.
Critics of the bill have raised concerns about its potential impact. Alexander Dobrindt, former German transport and infrastructure minister, described the idea of being able to determine one’s gender every year as a “story from the madhouse.” Christina Stumpp, the deputy secretary general of the Christian Democratic Union, the country’s largest opposition party, warned that the government was neglecting its duty to protect minors who may have doubts about their identity. Stumpp argued that young people need support and guidance on these serious issues, which the proposed legislation fails to address.
Another point of contention is the requirement for law enforcement to be informed about each gender-change request. Left Party MP Kathrin Vogler questioned whether this and other regulations in the bill comply with fundamental rights.
Despite the debates and criticisms surrounding the bill, it represents a significant step towards making gender identity recognition more accessible and inclusive in Germany. The reform aims to address the concerns raised by individuals who have found the current process of changing legal gender to be burdensome and discriminatory.