Germany: Green Party’s draft proposal for a new name/gender change law

July 13, 2010

Via Justus Eisfeld, co-director of GATE – Global Action for Trans* Equality, I learn that Volker Beck of the German Green party has recently introduced a proposal for a new name/gender change law to the German Bundestag (national parliament). Please remember that this is only a proposal; it’s possible that it will not become law as the Green party is a minority party in the German parliament, and not part of the current government coalition.

However, it makes interesting reading, not least because the focus is on the identity of the person and, as Justus says:

[…] no ‘proof’ of (gender) identity from outside sources is needed. It also does away with long court procedures and waiting times, and leaves open the possibility to change ‘back’ if needed.

Links to PDF copies of the complete proposal document can be found at the foot of this blog post, but the main points are as follows:

Part 1
Changing of Forenames

Section 1 – Application for a Change of Forename

(1) The forenames of a person shall, upon their application, be changed by the authorities responsible for civil status matters under Land law if

1. the said person declares that the forenames hitherto borne do not conform with their perception of their gender,

2. the said person

a) is German as defined by the Basic Law,
b) is a stateless person or a displaced foreign national with their habitual abode in Germany,
c) is a person entitled to asylum or a foreign refugee with their habitual abode in Germany, or
d) a foreign national from a country which has no provisions comparable to this Act in its national law, who
     aa) has a right of unlimited residence, or
     bb) has a residence permit which may be extended, and who is permanently and legally resident in Germany.

(2) For a person without legal capacity, the application shall be submitted by the legal representative. The legal representative shall require the permission of the Guardianship Court for this purpose.

(3) The application may be rejected only if it is manifestly abusive.

Section 2 – Prohibition of Disclosure

(1) Upon the entry into force of the decision by which the applicant’s forenames are changed, the forenames borne at the time of the decision may not be researched or disclosed without the applicant’s consent unless particular reasons of public interest so require or a legitimate interest is credibly asserted.

(2) The applicant may require that the new forenames be used in official documents and registers. Other gender-specific details, in particular the form of address, gender-specific job or professional titles, and references to kinship shall be adapted to the gender which corresponds to the changed forename if this does not affect the informational value and accuracy of the document content.

(3) For contracts under civil law, paragraph 2 shall apply mutatis mutandis.

(4) Official documents and certificates from previous employment relationships issued prior to the entry into force of the decision adopted pursuant to Section 1 shall be re-issued with the new forenames.

(5) An administrative offence shall be deemed to have been committed by anyone who persistently and purposely disregards the prohibitions and obligations set forth in paragraphs 1 to 4. The administrative offence may be punished with a fine of up to five hundred euros.

Part 2
Determination of Gender Identity

Section 3 – Application for the Determination of Gender Identity

(1) A person’s gender as stated in their registration of birth shall, upon their application, be amended by the authorities responsible for civil status matters under Land law, if

1. the said person declares that the gender stated in the registration of birth does not conform with their perception of their gender,
2. the provisions of Section 1, paragraph 1, no. 2 are fulfilled.

(2) For a person without legal capacity, the application shall be submitted by the legal representative. The legal representative shall require the permission of the Guardianship Court for this purpose.

(3) The application may be rejected only if it is manifestly abusive.

(4) An existing marriage or registered partnership shall remain unaffected by the amendment of the civil status. Upon the application of both spouses/registered partners, an existing marriage may be converted into a registered partnership or vice versa.

Section 4 – Effects of the Decision

(1) Upon the entry into force of the decision that the applicant shall be considered as belonging to the other gender, their gender-dependent rights and obligations shall conform to the new gender unless the law states otherwise.

(2) Section 2 shall apply mutatis mutandis. The prohibition of disclosure shall extend to the details concerning gender identity contained in the documents to be amended and to combinations of letters or numerals that are derived from gender; such details and combinations of letters or numerals shall also be amended.

Section 5 – Parent-Child Relationships

The decision that the applicant shall be considered as belonging to the other gender shall not affect the legal relationship between the applicant and their parents or the relationship between the applicant and their children. The same shall apply in relation to the descendants of these children.

Section 6 – Pensions and Comparable Recurrent Benefits

(1) Upon its entry into force, the decision that the applicant shall be considered as belonging to the other gender shall not affect existing entitlement to pensions and comparable recurrent benefits. Benefits which derive directly from the same legal relationship, to the extent that gender is relevant, shall continue to be assessed on the basis on which the said benefits were provided at the time the decision entered into force.

(2) The decision that the applicant shall be considered as belonging to the other gender shall not give rise to claims to benefits from the insurance or pensions of a former spouse.

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PDF copies of the proposal document in either the original German language version, or as translated into English by the parliamentary translation service of the German Bundestag, may be downloaded directly from these links:

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Justus adds that the document may be freely used in any and all lobbying activities around name/gender marker changes.

Comments that I’ve seen so far in discussions about the draft proposal include:

  1. The phrase “The application may be rejected only if it is manifestly abusive” could be used as a way to prevent what might be perceived as ‘too many’ applications to move back and forth between names/genders. It has been suggested that there should be some sort of formal record (perhaps an affidavit) to deter anyone who wishes to change their legal sex either to take advantage of, or make a mockery of, the proposed system.
  2. Although there is no explicit mention of intersex people, the definition of trans people given on advocacy sites such as TGEU does include intersex:

    Trans people (as used above) includes those people who have a gender identity which is
    different to the gender assigned at birth and those people who wish to portray their gender identity in a different way to the gender assigned at birth. It includes those people who feel they have to, or prefer or choose to, whether by clothing, accessories, cosmetics or body modification, present themselves differently to the expectations of the gender role assigned to them at birth. This includes, among many others, transsexual and transgender people, transvestites, cross dressers, no gender, multigender, genderqueer people, including intersex and gender variant people who relate to or identify as any of the above.

    I’m well aware that some intersex people do not consider intersex to be a gender identity – intersex is intersex is a maxim which I’m familiar with – but given that this definition includes intersex people, I hope that it would also apply to the proposal above.

One Response to “Germany: Green Party’s draft proposal for a new name/gender change law”

  1. msruthmoss Says:

    Now if we had something like that here instead of the GRA…?


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