Germany: Legal Revolution in Identity Change and Naturalization

In a decisive step towards facilitating legal procedures for changing names and gender for individuals, the German Cabinet approved the “Self-Determination Act” on August 23, 2023.

The purpose of the new law is to simplify the process of change by reducing bureaucracy and eliminating the need for expert evaluations and court decisions, which had been considered a hurdle for many individuals, especially transgender, non-binary, and gender-diverse individuals.

The German government approves the Self-Determination Act

Germany: Legal Revolution in Identity Change and Citizenship Acquisition

Despite its flexibility, the law faced criticism from conservative parties and the far-right “Alternative for Germany” party. This comes in light of the previous feeling of humiliation experienced by transgender individuals due to the old law, which required them to go through a court process before their names or genders could be officially changed.

In a related context, another bill was approved by Interior Minister Nancy Vizer, aiming to facilitate the acquisition of German citizenship.

This project provides immigrants with the opportunity to obtain a German passport more quickly, with specific criteria set for economic and democratic integration.

However, the project issued a warning against naturalizing individuals who have committed crimes with anti-Semitic or racist motivations.

Finally, Interior Minister Nancy Vizer emphasized that the new law is pivotal for enhancing Germany’s competitive edge in attracting global talents. She affirmed that Germany is committed to attracting and integrating the finest minds in the future.

The German government has named the new law the “Self-Determination Act,” aiming to grant every individual the right to independently determine and change their gender and first name.


The new law aims to achieve justice for transgender, non-binary, and intersex individuals. This law will allow individuals to change their gender by submitting a declaration and self-attestation at the Civil Status Department, without the need for surgical procedures.

Children and Adolescents:

Children and adolescents will not be able to independently change their gender until the age of 14. The guardian must provide the declaration, and after this age, the consent of the guardian is sufficient.

The Issue of Criminal Exploitation:

There was concern expressed by the Federal Crime Bureau that offenders might change their names to evade legal pursuit. However, this issue has been clarified as data exchange will occur between the Civil Status Departments and the authorities.

Frequent Gender Changes:

Gender can be changed repeatedly, but there is a requirement to wait for a year before making another change.

The Situation in Other Countries:

Similar laws have been implemented in several countries such as Ireland, Denmark, Portugal, Argentina, and Uruguay.

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