Germany to simplify legal gender reassignment

German government on Thursday unveiled plans to make it easier for transgender people to legally change their name and gender, acknowledging that existing legislation is outdated and “humiliating.”

“The right to independent living is fundamental to all people,” Lisa Paus, Minister for Family Affairs, said at a press conference in Berlin.

The proposed law would replace Germany’s 40-year-old “transgender law,” which requires people to go to court and provide two expert opinions, usually from psychotherapists, before they can get a legally recognized name and gender that they identify with.

Opponents have long called for the controversial law to be repealed, with complainants complaining about onerous administrative burdens and invasive personal questions, including about past sexual behavior.

Under the new “self-determination” law, it is enough for an adult applicant to go to the local registry office and simply declare the change that he wants to make to official documents.

Transgender or non-binary people aged 14 and over will also be allowed to use the new, easier procedure with the permission of their parents or legal guardians.

According to Paus, the old procedure is “not only lengthy and expensive, but deeply humiliating.”

“We live in a free and diverse society, which in many places has already gone further than our laws. The time has come to adapt the legal framework to social reality,” she added.

Germany has lagged behind other European countries on this issue: Belgium, Denmark, Norway and Switzerland have already adopted a self-declaration on the legal change of gender status.

Justice Minister Marco Buschmann said he expected the coalition government to pass the new law before the end of the year. Then all the same it is necessary to pass through parliament.

LGBTQ activists and human rights groups have repeatedly called for Germany to modernize its “transgender law,” and even the country’s Constitutional Court has criticized some aspects of it.

Social Democratic chancellor Olaf Scholz and his ruling Green Party and liberal FDP partners pledged to repeal the law in their coalition pact when they took power last December.

Previous attempts to amend the “transgender law” have been met with resistance from former Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc.