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Gender Recognition Act in Germany

by Lea Rosema

CONTENT WARNING for negative german politics and trans hostility.

Yesterday, the law draft for the promised gender recognition act (aka Selbstbestimmungsgesetz or self-determination act) was leaked. Sadly, the main focus weren't trans people but anti-trans talking points. TLDR it doesn't deserve to be called self-determination act.

The main concern of the gender recognition act reform in Germany (so called #selbstbestimmungsgesetz) should have been how to remove discrimination and make life easier for trans people. But in fact the law drafter's main concern was how to prevent potential abuse of the law through men, which is a talking point mostly driven by the far-right and anti-trans activists.

I won't share the far-right news site where the leak of the law appeared but instead a friendly source.

The fear of potential abuse is spread across the whole law text. Improvements for trans people were not the focus. Formerly, 2 psychiatric assessments were necessary to change your name and gender marker, you had to answer very intimate questions and you have to pay about 2000€ or more for it. This is no longer necessary, and to be fair, this is a great improvement. But in return, the new law in its current form would worsen the rights of trans people drastically, affecting all areas of everyday life.

There is a waiting period of 3 months added to the law draft. After you've changed the name via the law, you have to wait 3 more months until the name and gender marker is corrected. It is incapacitating and in direct contrast to self-determination. It is also endangering, as conversion therapy during this period can forcibly drive trans people to revoke the declaration.

After the name and gender becomes valid, a further correction of the name and gender marker is blocked for a year. In the former law, there wasn't a waiting period. Intersex people who were able to skip the psychiatric assessments through the 45b law will also have to wait 3 months then, which is a deterioration to their current situation.

In case of war and a return of conscription, the new law wouldn't allow changing the name and gender as it could potentially be abused by men who want to escape from military service.

Another concerning part of the new law is §13, which states that the law should be re-evaluated in 5 years. We expect to get a conservative–right government in 5 years. There is an acute danger that the law could then be repealed by the next government.

A big anti-trans talking point that made it into the law text is the narrative about men abusing the law in order to invade women's spaces, such as changing rooms, showers and women's sauna. The new law references domiciliary rights. It's a guideline of how a sauna provider for example can deny a trans person entrance if they see the intimacy of other guests affected. Usually, the equity law (AGG) prevents denying people entrance just because of their look or their genitals.

Also, this point has nothing to do with reality but is mostly driven by far-right and anti-trans people. In fact, I haven't been in the sauna for many years, like many other trans women. Trans people usually don't bother other people, they just want to live their life. But it's often the case we have to fear harassment from anti-trans people. The last time I've been in a mixed sauna, I was harassed by men in the mixed changing room (unfortunately, there was a lack of single cabins for changing clothes).



In the end, it's sadly a very bad law draft that doesn't improve the situation for trans people but makes it worse, affecting all areas of life. Trans women are women and trans men are men, but only if they conform and only if they don't affect cis peoples lives in any way. It may be even unsure if I can keep my name and gender after the law is re-evaluated by the conservatives.

Germany is a shit country. After 16 years of having a right-conservative government with the CDU, we finally had a government without the CDU (aka red-yellow-green ampel coalition). That is an opportunity to finally make necessary reforms possible after the CDU blocked it for 16 years. Especially abortion rights and trans rights.

Unfortunately, we have the FDP in the government and they are blocking everything progressive because they would love to form a coalition with the conservatives in the next legislation period. The conservatives still have a lot of influence through the federal countries and overall they are gaining popularity again, so it's expected we're going to get the conservatives in the government in the next legislation. Hopefully not for another 16 years.

But most importantly, it's better to stay optimistic. It's still a draft. I still hope the paragraphs about the waiting time, the reference to domiciliary rights and the paragraphs about potential abuse of the law get dropped, either while finalizing the law or afterwards through the constitutional court.

I would like to see trans organizations and also Sven Lehmann and others from the green party speaking up.