The country plans to allow gender self-ID at 14
Germany’s plans to allow children as young as 14 to change their legal gender should ring alarm bells across Europe. The proposed self-identification reform abandons any need for medical evidence or assessment, while parental consent was only added during the drafting of the bill.
If biological sex is an important characteristic to record and protect — and I think it is — then children will be left vulnerable. Those drafting the bill might have convinced themselves that they were de-medicalising the process, but instead they are replacing fact with fantasy.
Even the language is disingenuous. Lisa Paus, the German minister for family affairs announced “a straightforward official process for everyone whose officially registered gender doesn’t correspond to their gender identity”. Whatever happened to the word sex? And what is gender identity, anyway? If I don’t even need a gender identity to explain my own transsexualism, why should it be enshrined in law? Legislation might create legal fictions, but magical thinking can never supplant reality.
Meanwhile anyone who tries to point out historical truths may find themselves on the wrong side of the law. Referring to a trans person’s birth name – “deadnaming” – will be criminalised. Paus talked about living in “a liberal and diverse society”, but these plans sound distinctly authoritarian.
This matters for children because behind the sparkles and rainbows, transsexualism is a medical process involving powerful drugs and mutilating surgeries. But it’s surely much harder for doctors to first do no harm, and refer a child for psychotherapy when their legal papers indicate that they are the opposite sex already.
Even if children are convinced today, heartfelt testimony from de-transitioners suggests that they might not always feel that way. My view is clear: children must not be allowed to make uninformed and potentially catastrophic decisions before they grow up. Only then can they understand what it means to be an adult.
It matters for Europe because there is an ongoing concerted attempt to change society, and not in a good way. The November 2019 report co-written by law firm Dentons and the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Only adults? Good practices in legal gender recognition for youth, set out the tactics. A key focus was children and the weakening of parental rights. On extending gender recognition to children, the authors were unapologetic: ‘It is recognised that the requirement for parental consent or the consent of a legal guardian can be restrictive and problematic for minors.’
By branding these methods ‘good practice’, the unwary can be fooled into believing that it is a good thing to tell children that they can change their legal sex. And the more countries that give in to it, the harder it is for others to hold out against what becomes so-called international best practice. But for the sake of children, we mustn’t let this happen.