BERLIN (AP) — The German government on Tuesday presented a proposal for a law that will make it easier for people to legally change their name and gender, ending decades-old rules that require them to get expert assessments and a court’s authorization.
Under the planned “self-determination law,” adults would be able to change their first name and legal gender at registry offices without further formalities.
“We have taken another big step forward with the self-determination act and with it also in the protection against discrimination and the rights of transgender, intersex and nonbinary people,” Germany’s minister for families, Lisa Paus, said.
“This way we can give back some of the dignity to those who have been deprived of it for decades,” she added.
The existing “transsexual law,” which took effect in 1981, currently requires individuals to obtain assessments from two experts — such as physicians — whose training and experience make them “sufficiently familiar with the particular problems of transsexualism” and then a court decision to change the gender on official documents.
Over the years, Germany’s top court has struck down other provisions that required transgender people to get divorced and sterilized, and to undergo gender-transition surgery.
“Transgender people have been affected by discrimination and undignified treatment for far too long — we will finally put this condition behind us,” said Justice Minister Marco Buschmann, who presented the proposal together with the family minister.
The new government proposal declares that for children under the age of 14, legal guardians have to submit the declaration of change, while teenagers aged 14 and older should be able to submit the declaration of change themselves — but it should include the support of their custodians.
Germany’s government isn’t the only one trying to make gender changes easier in Europe.
Spain passed a law earlier this year that allows people over 16 years of age to change their legally registered gender without any medical supervision.
Minors between 12-13 years old need a judge’s authorization to change, while those between 14 and 16 must be accompanied by their parents or legal guardians.
On Tuesday, Spain’s Constitutional Court said it will consider a legal challenge lodged by the far-right Vox party against the new law.
In Scotland, First Minister Humza Yousaf said last month he will challenge the British government over its decision to block a law that makes it easier for people to change their gender on official documents.
The passage of Scotland’s bill in December was hailed by transgender rights activists but vetoed by the British government, which argued it could undermine U.K.-wide equality legislation that guarantees women and girls access to single-sex spaces such as changing rooms and shelters.
The bill would allow people aged 16 or older in Scotland to change the gender designation on identity documents by self-declaration, removing the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria. It would also speed up legal recognition of the change from two years to three months for adults and to six months for people aged 16 and 17.