European country makes gender change easy — Analysis
Switzerland allows people to self-declare gender identity through a simple visit to the civil registration office
As Switzerland introduces new regulations to eliminate bureaucratic obstacles, anyone as young as 16 years old can legally alter their gender or name.
People who do not have legal guardianship can now choose their legal name and gender by declaring at the civil registry offices. Adult protection applicants and minors under 16 years old will require the consent of their guardian.
This is a change from current Swiss regulations that require applicants to provide a certified medical certificate attesting to transgender status.
Some cantons – which are semi-autonomous member states in the country’s federal system – also require people to go through hormone treatment or anatomical transition before applying to legally change their gender. A request to change a name must be supported by evidence that the name was not used for many years.
In October, the Swiss Federal Council – Switzerland’s government – had stamped its approval on the rule change. The amendment to Swiss Civil Code had been approved by the Swiss parliament. It also adopted amendments to Civil Status Ordinance.
The new rules will not create a third option for gender in Switzerland. They also won’t affect family law relationships such as parentage, registered partnerships and marriage. Two parliamentary motions to create a third gender or eliminate all gender entries are being examined by the federal government.
Swiss law currently only recognizes the male and female genders and requires that a child’s gender be entered into the civil registry at birth. The Swiss Federal Civil Registry Office also bars parents from leaving their child’s gender entry open even if it cannot be clearly determined at birth.
The new laws allow Switzerland to join more than two dozen other countries around the world that aim to legalize gender self-identification and avoid requiring any medical procedure. Other European countries have already done this include Norway, Belgium and Portugal.
Other European countries, such as France, Denmark and Greece have eliminated the requirement for medical procedures like sex reassignment, sterilization or psychiatric assessment. However, there are some additional requirements.
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