Which legal aspects have to be considered?

Authors: Isabelle Melcher & Kai Jannik

The situation for trans* people under law is currently changing. It is an important step for many trans* people to have their first name and/or gender corrected by law. Until new legislation is created for trans* people, unfortunately old regulations according to the “Act on changing first names and determining gender in special cases” (Act regarding Transsexuals/TSG). This act still provides for a procedure requiring a hearing at the competent local court. (In some federal states this is regulated centrally by a competent court, in others by the nearest local court according to place of residence). This procedure also involves the preparation of two psychiatric reports. For many years this approach has been considered by both the community and politically to be out of date and discriminatory. Although there are different (and largely similar) legislative proposals from political parties and the community, the actual legislative process has been repeatedly postponed in recent years. As we are talking about proceedings before a court here, legal aid can be applied for. Changing your first name and gender is also possible in Germany regardless of the applicant’s residence status – they just have to live in Germany. However, this change only applies in Germany and would likely not be accepted in many other countries.

Even if being addressed in the desired way with the desired name is possible in most areas of life, there is only a legally enforceable obligation to do so after the name or gender has been legally changed. This means that trans* people still have to rely on the understanding and goodwill of others. Another big issue is that legislation up until now can only apply to binary trans* people. For non-binary trans* people, there is currently no option to change their gender to a third gender option (often referred to as “x” or “other” in administrative situations), neither through the TSG (Act regarding Transsexuals) nor through the new civil status law. In the meantime, some trans* people have succeeded in fighting for a change to using the third gender option, but unfortunately the corresponding judgments have not yet led to a general change in the procedure at the courts or registry offices. There is hope that there will soon be a clearer legal regulation which considers non-binary trans* people and a removal of the requirement for specialist reports. Putting an end to special separate legislation and integrating the law regarding the civil status of trans* people into general civil status legislation, as well as a change in responsibility away from the courts to registry offices would also be an important and necessary step.

Last updated: 02/26/2021 - 11:02

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