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Government to lift legal obstacles to registering gender change

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Photo: Jean-Sebastien Evrard/AFP
08:35 CEST+02:00
Transgender people should be able to change their first name and gender easily without bureaucracy getting in the way, the Swiss government believes.

On Thursday it announced plans to modify the Swiss civil code to make such changes easier to register.

It means that anyone who is convinced that the gender they have been assigned in the civil register is not the right one for them should be able to change both gender and first names by means of a simple declaration.

No medical examination will be required for changes to the register.

Under the plans – which are now out for consultation – if the trans person has entered into a marriage or civil partnership this will not be annulled. 

“The government is clear that changing name or gender should no longer pose an obstacle to transpeople,” Justice minister Simonetta Sommaruga said. 

The civil register should be adapted to reflect reality and not the other way round, she added.

Sommaruga told SRF television that while the number of people affected by wrongly assigned gender was small, those individuals “suffered a great deal”.

“For these people, this is a very important step and a huge relief.”

All babies in Switzerland currently have to be officially registered within three days of birth, stating their gender as well as their name.

But around 40 children are born every year whose gender cannot be easily determined.

In such cases the children are assigned a gender, which can only be changed as a result of a complicated administrative or legal process.

But Sommaruga said there were no plans currently to follow the lead of countries including Germany and Canada in recognizing a third gender.

She said discussions would need to take place in Switzerland first but that the government was willing to draw up a report on the issue. 

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