Self-ID in Germany

On August 23, 2023, the draft of the “Self-Determination Act” („Selbstbestimmungsgesetz“) was passed in the German federal cabinet. However, it still has to be read out in the Bundestag before it becomes law.

Clandestine but penetrating, gender identity is working its ways into german law. Here I’ll give a short summary about the past, the presence and the possible future regarding the replacement of „sex“ with „gender“ in law.

Historical context

Since January 1st 1981 there is the so called „Transsexuellengesetz“ (TSG) in Germany, a law for transsexualism. It gives gender dysphoric people the possibility to change their legal gender/sex. (There is no linguistic distinction between those words, because they‘re both called „Geschlecht“ in german. Accurately it would be called „biologisches Geschlecht“ (sex) or „soziales Geschlecht“ (gender), but it is often used indistinct.)

Status quo

You already can change your first name and/or your legal gender. Since 2018, intersex people can register their sex under „divers“, but this is not open to self-identification, only for those who really are intersex. Right now, the transsexual person willing to change their gender entry has to prove that s/he lives since at least three years as the preferred gender and that there is a high possibility that this will not change. They have to show two assessments from two different experts (psychologists) that confirm that it is a serious request. After that, they have to talk to a judge and if everything is approved, the change can start, no SRS needed. Trans identified men are already competing in women‘s sports and have access to a lot of women’s places.

This is where we‘re at the moment. But it is not enough, because now they push for Self-ID – with the argument that the process takes too long (up to 9 months) and the assessments are too expensive (1000-2000€) – even though everything else, including the operations, is paid for by national health service, and even though there is access to financial aid for those who don’t have enough money. Another argument is that non-binaries are not considered. It is critiqued as „dehumanizing“ that there is a need to prove good and serious intentions.

Recent actions

Since at least 2008, there were steady efforts to reform the current law. Now they‘re pushing for it, hard. On August 23 2023, the draft of the “Self-Determination Act” („Selbstbestimmungsgesetz“) was passed in the German federal cabinet. The three ruling parties SPD (Social democrats), Grüne (Greens) and FDP (liberals) want to abolish the „Transsexuellengesetz“ and install a new law, the „Selbstbestimmungsgesetz“ (i.e. self-determination law). In fact, the term „transsexuality“ was completely erased in the law proposal.

It includes (by the proposal of the Green party):

  • Self-ID, once a year possible to „change“ legal sex just by going to the civil registry office
  • Following this, access to all women‘s facilities
  • No proof of seriousness or stability of the wish to transition needed
  • No psychological or any reason (gender dysphoria etc.) needed
  • 14 y.o. kids can decide to change ‚gender‘, even against parent’s will
  • „Misgendering“ someone could costs up to 10.000€ (i.e. if someone calls a man who doesn’t want to be a man „Sir“ or „he“ or a woman who doesn’t want to be a woman „Madam“ or „she“)
  • No precautions against possible abuse of this law.

Unsurprisingly, there was no critical media coverage – at all. Because the proposal is ridiculous. German media, including the programs run by the government, is full of very diversity friendly news, reports and articles, all in favor of the new law, none noticing or mentioning the conflict with women‘s rights – because the infrastructure of the public space makes it nearly impossible to guarantee that women‘s safety is not at risk. There was a line in a former law proposal from 2017 which stated that the application can be denied if it is obviously abusive and not serious. This protective measure was erased in the proposal of 2020, without explanation or substitution.

None of our concerns were adequately addressed.

Future expectations

For a bill to pass, there have to be three hearings and some processes afterwards. At least, after three years of campaigning, there is finally public awareness for the safeguarding issues and unfairness for women. Now in August 2023, the draft has passed in the Bundeskabinett, but there have to be a three hearings for the draft to become law.

Updated: 31.8.2023