German government approves law allowing gender change once a year

Minors may also change their identity in government registry offices via a simple process without psychological examination.

Germany's Council of Ministers, made up of the coalition of the country's Socialist, Green and Liberal Parties, approved a bill on Wednesday to allow easier gender changes in government registry offices. The coalition's so-called "traffic light" plan, named after the parties' colors, aims to facilitate legal recognition of trans and non-binary identities.

The proposed "Self-Determination Act" must still be submitted to the German legislature for a vote and approval. According to statements by Justice Minister Marco Buschmann, it is a law that makes life easier for "a small group for which it has great importance."

The new law would eliminate processes that are currently in place for gender changes. In Germany, a series of psychological examinations is necessary in order to be able to change gender in the national register. According to public media outlet DW, the process was described as "lengthy, costly and humiliating."

"Everyone has a right to the state respecting their gender identity," Justice Minister Marco Buschmann told DW. "The current law harasses transgender people. We want to end this undignified situation."

Permission for minors

The bill serves both adults and minors. Those under the age of 14 must have their parents submit the proper documentation. Those aged 14-18 may submit their own documents, but parental approval is required.

Interested parties must submit self-determination documents to the national registry authorities. Three months later, the change will take effect. The law provides for a limit of one change per year.

According to DW, the law also provides penalties for those who reveal or talk about another person's past gender. The penalties would be financial fines. The German government assures that changing gender would not allow a person to escape any criminal prosecution from when they were legally listed as a different gender.