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LGBT community in Switzerland welcomes law allowing gender change

New Swiss law will allow transgender and intersex individuals within the LGBT community in Switzerland, aged 16 and above, to change their gender and legal name status on official papers by self-declaration at the civil register office beginning January 1.

On December 18, 2020, the Swiss Parliament enacted a measure allowing legal gender recognition processes based on self-determination. Previously, Swiss law needed a document from a medical practitioner certifying a person’s transgender status.

Furthermore, under the present law, legal gender registration processes in Switzerland are still reliant on judicial proceedings that differ from one court to the next or even from one judge to the next. Not only will the new legislation simplify and standardize the practice, but it will also be less expensive, faster, and based on self-determination.

Existing family relationships, including marriage or registered partnership, are unaffected by the change in gender status. Only male or female genders may be entered; no third gender or no gender status may be entered. The Federal Council, on the other hand, is working on a study on the possibility of introducing a third gender category or doing away with a registration entry for gender entirely.

According to Transgender Network Switzerland, the administrative price will be 75 CHF ($81.83). Legal gender recognition might have cost up to 1.000 CHF ($1091.13) under the former legislation.

LGBT community in Switzerland welcomes law allowing gender change
LGBT community in Switzerland celebrates passage of new law allowing simple gender change.

Transgender groups laud new legislation

Transgender Europe (TGEU), a network of several groups aiming to oppose discrimination against trans people and promote trans people’s rights, applauded the legislation’s passage last year. “Especially given the backlash against trans people’s human rights in 2020, we are happy to see this law pass before the end of the year. Some countries have shown major step-backs in legal gender recognition, such as Hungary or Russia. It offers our communities some hope to see the Swiss example,” Masen Davis, TGEU Executive Director, said. 

As the law goes into effect, the Transgender European Union (TGEU) and the Transgender Network Switzerland (TGNS) raised concern that persons under the age of 18 and those under adult care will need parental/guardian agreement.

In a statement released to the media last December, TGNS stated:

“The joy that Switzerland has achieved the current human rights standard for adult intersex and trans women and men is, however, severely clouded in the communities concerned. In contrast to today, under-16s and people under comprehensive assistance can only apply for the change in the future with the consent of the legal representative, even if they are capable of judgment. You are the only one whose personal rights are restricted in this way, although the change in the gender entry does not affect anyone other than yourself.

“Today could be a great day of joy for us: We have wanted a simple, self-determination process for years. But today we are mainly shocked by the way in which Parliament deals with intersex and trans young people. Today’s decision worsens the situation of young people massively and contradicts children’s rights. With this decision the parliament provokes – consciously – great suffering of a minority and lets conflicts in families escalate,” comments the president of InterAction Suisse, Audrey Aegerter, regarding the approved proposal.

According to Alecs Recher, who heads the legal advice of TGNS, with a view to implementation: “We will support all young people and assisted trans and intersex people, so that they receive the correct gender entry despite this new hurdle! We call on Federal Councillor Keller-Suter and Parliament to observe the practical effects of the approval requirement and to make the necessary corrections. “

 LGBT community in Switzerland staged protest last year.
LGBT community in Switzerland staged protest last year.

Switzerland, along with Ireland, Belgium, Portugal, and Norway, is one of the few nations on the continent that allows individuals to legally change gender without the use of hormone treatment, a medical diagnosis, or further examination or bureaucratic procedures.

Members of LGBT community in Switzerland apply for gender change

Following the relaxation of the legislation on January 1st of this year, dozens of people have applied to change their gender in the Swiss civil register.

According to the article, the majority of applicants were under the age of 30. One individual under the age of sixteen applied, accompanied by their parents.

According to the report, there have been 20 applications in Zurich, 8 in Basel, 14 in Geneva, 4 in Lucerne, 5 in Winterthur, and 23 in the canton of Bern since the beginning of the year.

Transgender and intersex persons within the LGBT community in Switzerland can officially alter their name and sex in the civil registry without any bureaucratic obstacles, according to the reform in Swiss legislation. There are no longer any medical exams or other requirements as of 2022.

Every year, around 40 newborns are born with undetermined sex. Previously, however, the law obliged them to be registered within three days with their sex and initial name, which could only be altered afterwards through a lengthy judicial or administrative procedure.

The final phase will be to establish a “third gender,” according to a report. “We still have, for example, cases of babies born with unclear biological sex,” Roland Peterhans, chairman of the Swiss Association of Civil Registrars, said. “Parents must then choose very early on. That is not satisfactory.”

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