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Victory for self-determination: German Bundestag passes groundbreaking gender identity law

On April 12, 2024, Germany celebrated a landmark victory for trans*, intersex, and non-binary rights, as the Bundestag allowed self-determined gender changes.

This success follows a determined campaign by the BVT* and All Out, which challenged the restrictive 1981 Trans Act and culminated in a historic overhaul of the law.

In 1981, Germany passed the so-called “trans act” (Transsexuellengesetz) which, among other things, regulated change in name and gender markers for trans people.

But the trans act (TSG) did not allow trans*, intersex, and non-binary people to make a self-determined decision about their gender status. Anyone who wanted to change their civil status or first name exposed themselves to forced outing and a humiliating process.

The TSG was declared unconstitutional seven times and had to be adjusted. Until 2011, people who wanted to change their gender identity were forcibly sterilized or had to get divorced against their will.

The Federal Trans Association (BVT*) launched a campaign together with All Out in 2019 that called for the abolition of the TSG and demanded a new regulation for everyone that complies with the constitution. In 2020 we handed over more than 14,000 signatures to the queer political speakers of the Bundestag, the German parliament.

And it worked! Members of the Bundestag  presented a draft for a self-determination law in the beginning of May 2023. On 12 April 2024, the German Bundestag finally passed the Act on Self-Determination with regard to Gender Registration (SBGG), giving trans*, intersex, and non-binary people the opportunity to change their gender entry and first names by self-disclosure to the registry office starting on 1 November 2024.

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