According to the new changes to Switzerland’s civil code, starting from this Saturday, Swiss citizens as young as 16 can legally change both their gender and name without needing to undergo hormone therapy or medical assessment.
As the country brings in new rules to remove bureaucratic hurdles, Swiss citizens who are not under legal guardianship will be able to choose their gender and legal name by self-declaration at the civil registry office.
Applicants under 16 years and those under adult protection will need the consent of their legal guardian.
New rule marks a departure from the current system of following regionally prescribed standards in Switzerland, which usually made it a requirement for applicants to submit a certificate from a medical professional that attests to their transgender identity.
Some Swiss cantons also require people to go through hormone treatment or anatomical transition before applying to legally change their gender. Meanwhile, a name change request needed to be accompanied by proof that the new name has already been unofficially in use for several years.
Two months ago, the Swiss Federal Council – Switzerland’s government – had approved the rule change. The Swiss parliament had adopted the amendment to the Swiss Civil Code and the amendment to the Civil Status Ordinance in December.
However, the new rules do not introduce a third gender option in Switzerland and will not affect family law relationships, such as marriage, registered partnerships, and parentage.
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.
Swiss federal government is currently examining two parliamentary motions that seek to introduce a third gender and eliminate gender entries altogether, though.
With the new rules, Switzerland joins some two dozen countries worldwide aiming to give legal weight to gender self-identification without requiring medical procedures. Ireland, Belgium, Portugal, and Norway are the other European countries that have done so already.
Some other European nations, including Denmark, France, and Greece, have also done away with the need for medical procedures such as sex reassignment surgery, sterilization, or psychiatric evaluation.