Draft for new self-determination law is evident

Status: 04/28/2023 11:20 a.m

Whether trans, inter or non-binary – anyone who wants to have their gender entry changed has so far had to go through a court process. The new Self-Determination Act aims to change that. The draft is now available.

In the event of a defense, men should not be able to avoid a possible draft by changing their gender entry. This provides for a special regulation in the planned self-determination law for traffic lights.

The Federal Ministry of Justice and Family Affairs submitted a finished draft to the internal government vote, which various media reported on. It also contains other special regulations and clarifications, for example with regard to sports, competitions, changing rooms, prisons or quota regulations in companies.

The federal government’s queer commissioner, Sven Lehmann, told the dpa news agency that a decisive step was taken. He expressed the hope that the law would be introduced in the federal cabinet before the summer recess. “This is the first time a federal government has taken the initiative to replace the discriminatory transsexual law after 40 years.”

Attacks on trans people in Germany are increasing.

A simple procedure at the registry office should be sufficient

After the cabinet, the law still has to go through the Bundestag and Bundesrat. It is still unclear when it can come into force. The traffic light parties had agreed on the project in their coalition agreement. According to the plans, everyone in Germany should in future be able to determine their gender and first name themselves and change them in a simple procedure at the registry office. The change should be valid after a three-month waiting period, reports the “taz”. Family and justice ministries expect about 4,000 cases per year.

According to the ministries, the law is aimed at transgender, intergender and non-binary people. Trans therefore includes people who do not identify or only identify with the gender that was assigned to them at birth. Inter means having congenital physical characteristics “that cannot be clearly classified as (only) male or (only) female according to medical norms”. Non-binary is defined as a self-designation for people who identify as neither male nor female.

According to the explanatory memorandum to the draft law, the current law on transsexuals is based on a “medically outdated, pathologizing understanding of transsexuality”. In the future, no one should have to go through court proceedings or require medical certificates and expert opinions to change the gender entry.

Criticism from Union and AfD

The law has been criticized by conservatives and the right. The name “Self-Determination Act” already suggests that gender identity must be freely selectable for everyone at all times, according to the CDU and CSU. The deputy AfD parliamentary group leader Beatrix von Storch described the project as a “slap in the face to women who have to deal with men who define themselves as women”.

Fears that have been expressed that men could maliciously declare themselves to be women and break into women’s changing rooms or that convicts will try to get into women’s prisons by changing their entry are countered by the draft law with clarifications: The law does not create a right to access protected rooms. Private house rights remain unaffected. Owners of fitness studios or saunas for women, for example, continue to decide for themselves on access within the framework of the applicable laws.

Comment: The planned self-determination law is a step that is long overdue for those affected.

law shall precede stigma and discrimination protection

In detention centers, the accommodation of prisoners does not have to be based solely on the gender entry, it is said. Personal rights and security interests of other prisoners could prevent transfer to a women’s prison. Family Minister Lisa Paus (Greens) had criticized the discussion a few days ago: “It fuels fears that have nothing to do with reality,” she said in “Zeit online”. The Self-Determination Act is about recognizing the gender identity of the persons concerned and protecting them from stigmatization and discrimination.

In principle, according to the information in the civil status register, the entries in the civil status register should remain male, female and diverse in the future. It is still possible to enter no information. Changes to the first name or gender entry can still be made multiple times. However, at least one year must pass before a new change is made.

Children up to the age of 14 cannot make changes themselves at the registry office. Only the guardians can do that. From the age of 14, the declaration can be made yourself, but the legal guardians must agree.

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