Switzerland set to let transgender people easily change their name and legal gender

Switzerland has begun the process to allow transgender people to legally change their name and gender without requiring the approval of a court.

On Thursday, Swiss Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga announced potential new legislation regarding the rights of transgender people in the alpine country.

If implemented, the new policy will allow transgender people to change their legal gender and their first name without the approval of a court, allowing trans people to self-identify.

Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga (FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images)

The policy will also not require transgender people who are married to divorce prior to changing their legal gender and will not affect parent-child relationships.

The Swiss Federal Council, a group of politicians who collectively act as the heads of government, have now sent the policy for consultation.

Related: Pakistan has changed the law so transgender people legally change their gender without medical approval

The Federal Council stated that the changes were suggested in order to represent the “realities of daily life” for transgender people in Switzerland.

CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 25: Demonstrators protest for transgender rights on February 25, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. The demonstrators were angry with President Donald Trumps recent decision to reverse the Obama-era policy requiring public schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The Swiss government recently removed the requirements for sterilisation and other medical procedures and checks prior to changing a legal gender, however lawmakers highlighted on Thursday that more needed to be done.

The Federal Council stated: “The absence of any clear ruling in law means that transgender individuals continue to face enormous hurdles. They must sue in court to have their change of gender legally recognised.

“Legal practice is inconsistent, and proceedings are found to be unnecessarily protracted and expensive.”

Trans march vietnam

(Photo: HOANG DINH NAM/AFP/Getty Images)

Laws regarding the rights of transgender people vary significantly across Europe, with multiple countries maintaining the requirement that trans people be sterilised before changing their legal gender, including Finland and Luxembourg.

According to estimates from the Swiss government, there are several hundred transgender people in the country, though estimates from Swiss trans rights group Transgender Network Switzerland are higher.

Although the proposed legislation does not offer a third gender option for people who identify as non-binary, Swiss lawmakers have stated they are willing to consider implementing this and highlighted the benefits it could have for intersex people in the country.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 19: A participant holds a sign saying "Trans and Proud" during the Glasgow Pride march on August 19, 2017 in Glasgow, Scotland. The largest festival of LGBTI celebration in Scotland has been held every year in Glasgow since 1996. (Photo by Robert Perry/Getty Images)


In April, Portugal’s president blocked a bill which would have made it easier for teenagers to change their gender identity on official documents.

The bill, passed on April 13, would have allowed citizens as young as 16 to change their gender identity without needing a medical report, as long as they had parental consent.

President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa sent the bill back to parliament with the request lawmakers add a mandatory medical report for minors.

He said he understood the reasons for the bill but added it “seems reasonable” for there to be a “medical evaluation early on.”