LGBT protesters
LGBT protesters

Transgender rights in the Federal Republic of Germany are regulated in the Transsexuellengesetz ("Transsexual law")[1] since 1980, and indirectly affected by other laws like the Abstammungsrecht ("Law of Descent").[2] The law initially required them to undergo surgical alteration of their genitals in order to have key identity documents changed. This has since been declared unconstitutional.[3] The German government is planning to replace the Transsexuellengesetz with the Selbstbestimmungsgesetz, allowing people to change their legal gender much more easily.[4] Discrimination protections on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation vary across Germany, but discrimination in employment and the provision of goods and services is in principle banned countrywide.

LGBT Demonstration Karlsruhe 114.jpg

The Transsexuellengesetz

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In 1980, West Germany passed a law regulating the change of first names and legal gender. It is called "Gesetz über die Änderung der Vornamen und die Feststellung der Geschlechtszugehörigkeit in besonderen Fällen (de:Transsexuellengesetz – TSG)". That translates as the "Law about the change of first name and determination of gender identity in special cases (Transsexual law – TSG)". Since 1990, following the reunification of East and West Germany, it applies to all of Germany.

To change either name or gender, two independent medical court experts have to be commissioned by the judge. They are asked to evaluate, whether

Originally, the law stated that neither change of name nor legal gender were available for people under 25 years of age. This condition has been declared void by the courts, and today there is no minimum age. Until 2008, the person had to be unmarried.[citation needed]

The TSG applies only to German citizens; there are exceptions only for non-German citizens with very specific legal status, such as stateless people living legally in Germany, or in case the foreign state has no equivalent law, which would be in accordance with German constitution.[citation needed]

Name changes

One can either obtain a change of name alone, and proceed later with a change of legal gender, if possible or desired, or obtain both in a single legal procedure.[citation needed]

The name change becomes legally void if a child of the trans person is born more than 300 days after the name change.[7]

Several court decisions have further specified several matters. For example, a person with only a name change has the right to be called "Herr" or "Frau" (Mr. or Ms.) according to their first name, not their legal gender; similarly, documents have to be issued reflecting their actual gender identity, not legal gender. Job references, certifications and similar from the time before the change of name may be reissued with the new name, so effectively there is no way for a new employer to learn about the change of name and/or legal gender. Also, people with only a name change do not have to divulge their legal gender to employers.[citation needed]

A name change is registered as previous last names in the resident registration (German "Melderegister").[8] It is also registered in the Federal Central Tax Office as previous last names with the Tax Identification Number.[9] Based on the previous last names there can be seen the previous gender.

Gender marker changes

To change legal gender, it was once required that the person

In January 2011, the German Constitutional Court declared these two criteria unconstitutional.[3][11][12]

Gender-neutral names

In the past, German law required parents to give their child a gender-specific name.[13][14] This is no longer true, since the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany held in 2008 that there is no obligation that a name has to be sex-specific, even if it is the only one.[15]

Third gender

In November 2017, the Bundesverfassungsgericht ("Federal Constitutional Court") ruled that civil status law must allow a third gender option.[16] This means that birth certificates will no longer have blank gender entries for intersex people.[17] The process for intersex people to obtain different gender markers has been regulated in the Personenstandsgesetz ("Law of Civil Status").[18]

Parental identification on children's birth certificates

While the legal gender for trans people can be changed through the TSG, they will still be forcibly misgendered as biological parents on their children's birth certificates with a reference to their old gender (e.g. a trans woman as "father"), with no option of a reissued certificate.[19] This has been overruled in other EU countries like France,[20] but not so far in Germany, potentially involuntarily outing transgender parents to their children's schools and to other governments when they travel, which according to TGEU is a threat to transgender people's freedom of travel.[21]

Discrimination protections

The Equal Treatment Act came into force on 18 August 2006. It bans discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics in employment and the provision of goods and services.[22]

Hate speeches on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity are not banned nationwide in Germany. Some states have laws banning all forms of discrimination in their constitutions (Berlin, Brandenburg, Bremen, Saarland and Thuringia). In those states, hate speech based on both sexual orientation and gender identity is prohibited.[23][24]


In September 2021, Nyke Slawik and Tessa Ganserer, members of the Green Party, were elected to the Bundestag. They are openly transgender women. Later that year, the government pledged to loosen restrictions on legal name changes and to compensate transgender people who were sterilized against their will.[25]
de:Michaela Lindner was one of the first out transgender politicians in Germany.

See also


  1. ^ "Personenstandsrecht - Transsexuellenrecht".
  2. ^ "Gebärende Männer sind Väter! Zeugende Frauen sind Mütter! BVT*-Stellungnahme zum Teilentwurf eines Gesetzes zur Reform des Abstammungsrechts · Bundesverband Trans*". 12 May 2019.
  3. ^ a b "ERT Notes Steps Taken Around the World Recognising the Gender Identity of Gender Variant Persons". Equal Rights Trust. 2011-12-14. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
  4. ^ "Eckpunkte für das Selbstbestimmungsgesetz vorgestellt".
  5. ^ a b The German word Geschlecht (the teminology used in the law) can be translated as either "sex" or "gender".
  6. ^ a b c "Bundesverfassungsgericht - Presse - Voraussetzungen für die rechtliche Anerkennung von Transsexuellen nach § 8 Abs. 1 Nr. 3 und 4 Transsexuellengesetz verfassungswidrig". Retrieved 2019-02-06.
  7. ^ "BGBl. I S. 1654" (PDF) (in German). Bundesansieger Verlag. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  8. ^ "§ 3 BMG - Einzelnorm". Retrieved 2022-05-28.
  9. ^ "BZSt - tax identification number". Retrieved 2022-05-28.
  10. ^ a b Prerequisites for the statutory recognition of transsexuals according to § 8.1 nos. 3 and 4 of the Transsexuals Act are unconstitutional
  11. ^ "– German Constitutional Court declares compulsory surgeries unconstitutional". 28 January 2011. Retrieved 26 March 2017.
  12. ^ "– German Constitutional Court declares compulsory surgeries unconstitutional". 28 January 2011.
  13. ^ "Oh no, you can't name your baby THAT!". Retrieved 26 July 2015.
  14. ^ Flippo, Hyde "The Germany Way" Published by McGraw-Hill (1996), Pages 96-97
  15. ^ BVerfG, 1 BvR 576/07 vom 5.12.2008, paragraph 16
  16. ^ Civil Status Law Must Allow a Third Gender Option
  17. ^ Germany officially recognising 'third sex' other than male and female The Independent, 8 November 2017
  18. ^ "§ 45b PStG - Erklärung zur Geschlechtsangabe und... -".
  19. ^ "ZEIT ONLINE | Lesen Sie mit Werbung oder im PUR-Abo. Sie haben die Wahl".
  20. ^ "Trans Frau kann sich in Geburtsurkunde als zweite Mutter eintragen lassen".
  21. ^ "New report on trans parenthood and freedom of movement in the EU". 22 March 2021.
  22. ^ "Antidiskriminierungsstelle - Publikationen - AGG in englischer Sprache". Archived from the original on 2016-01-11. Retrieved 2017-03-26.
  23. ^ "Rainbow Europe: Germany". Retrieved 26 March 2017.
  24. ^ (in German) Diskriminierungsverbot in die Bremische Landesverfassung
  25. ^ Marzano-Lesnevich, Alex (2022-03-04). "Opinion | Who Should Be Allowed to Transition?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-03-04.
  26. ^ Gershon, Livia (18 November 2018). "Gender Identity in Weimar Germany". JSTOR Daily. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  27. ^ Frost, Natasha (2 November 2017). "The Early 20th-Century ID Cards That Kept Trans People Safe From Harassment". Atlas Obscura. Retrieved 19 July 2019.