Self-ID in Germany is creeping at the door

Clandestine but penetrating, gender identity is working its ways into german law.


Historical context: Since January 1st 1981 there is the so called „Transsexuellengesetz“ (TSG) in Germany, a law for transsexualism. It gives gender dysphoric people the possibility to change their legal gender/sex. (There is no linguistic distinction between those words, because they‘re both called „Geschlecht“ in german. Accurately it would be called „biologisches Geschlecht“ (sex) or „soziales Geschlecht“ (gender), but it is often used indistinct.)


Status quo: You already can change your first name and/or your legal gender. Since 2018, intersex people can register their sex under „divers“, but this is not open to self-identification, only for those who really are intersex. Right now, the transsexual person willing to change their gender entry has to prove that s/he lives since at least three years as the preferred gender and that there is a high possibility that this will not change. They have to show two assessments from two different experts (psychologists) that confirm that it is a serious request. After that, they have to talk to a judge and if everything is approved, the change can start, no SRS needed. Trans identified men are already competing in women‘s sports and have access to a lot of women's places.


This is where we‘re at the moment. But it is not enough, because now they push for Self-ID – with the argument that the process takes too long (up to 9 months) and the assessments are too expensive (1000-2000€) - even though everything else, including the operations, is paid for by national health service, and even though there is access to financial aid for those who don't have enough money. Another argument is that non-binaries are not considered. It is critiqued as „dehumanizing“ that there is a need to prove good and serious intentions.


Recent actions: Since at least 2008, there were steady efforts to reform the current law. Now they‘re pushing for it, hard. The first hearing for the proposed Self-ID laws in Germany was on November 2nd 2020. The two parties of opposition, Grüne (Greens) and FDP (liberals), supported by two other parties, SPD (labour) and Linke (left), want to abolish the „Transsexuellengesetz“ and install a new law, the „Selbstbestimmungsgesetz“ (i.e. self-determination law). In fact, the term "transsexuality" was completely erased in the law proposal.


It includes:

  • Self-ID, once a year possible to "change" legal sex just by going to the civil registry office

  • Following this, access to all women‘s facilities

  • No proof of seriousness or stability of the wish to transition needed

  • No psychological or any reason (gender dysphoria etc.) needed

  • But: All medical/chirurgical procedures should be paid by compulsory health insurance (and the patients ought to choose autonomously which operations they want)
  • 14 y.o. kids can decide to change 'gender', even against parent's will
  • and/or 14 y.o. can start medical procedures - including SRS (again, without gender dysphoria)
  • Misgendering someone, even by accident, could costs up to 2.500€
  • No precautions against possible abuse of this law.


Unsurprisingly, there was no critical media coverage – at all. Because the proposal is ridiculous. German media, including the programs run by the government, is full of very diversity friendly news, reports and articles, all in favor of the new law, none noticing or mentioning the conflict with women‘s rights – because the infrastructure of the public space makes it nearly impossible to guarantee that women‘s safety is not at risk. There was a line in a former law proposal from 2017 which stated that the application can be denied if it is obviously abusive and not serious. This protective measure was erased in the proposal of 2020, without explanation or substitution.


What happened on the first hearing on November 2nd? For hearings, parties can invite experts on different fields, in this case one medical doctor, four jurists and one spokesperson for trans, so they can state their expertise and rating on the discussed topics, on which foundation the politicians can form their opinions.

The only present medical doctor warned about the ridiculous law proposal, which, following the IGLYO manual, mixed intersex/DSD and transgender issues. Politicians and most jurists only responded to that by repeated the phrases we all know too well. With others it was obvious that they are clueless about the risks for girls and women, or at least mime to be. One of the four jurists explained the causa relatively objectively, the other three played weak rhetorics.

So far only the conservative union (CDU/CSU) holds a position which isn't eroding women's rights. A far right party (AfD) also argues against Self-ID. The rest, all left from both, are in favor of queer theoretical 'argumentations' and actively trying to erode women‘s rights. None of the concerns were adequately addressed.


Future expectations: For a bill to pass, there have to be three hearings and some processes afterwards. So far, we‘ve only had the first. But it is alarming that there is no public awareness for the safeguarding issues and unfairness for women, at all. They are planning to push it through on May 19th by having the second and third hearing in one session.

We're on red alert.



Victoria Feuerstein, fffrauen.de