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Misgendering and deadnaming: Will this soon become illegal in Germany?

A placard supporting transgender rights is shown at the Stonewall Pride Parade and Street Festival
A placard supporting transgender rights is shown at the Stonewall Pride Parade and Street Festival Copyright Lynne Sladky/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Lynne Sladky/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Sophia Khatsenkova with AFP
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That’s what some social media users and news outlets believe. The Cube fact-checked these claims.

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Numerous social media users and certain websites claim the German government recently passed a law to make deadnaming and misgendering a criminal offense punishable by a fine of up to €10,000. 

"I'm from Germany and today a new law was enacted where you can change your gender upon a feeling once a year! Also, misgendering can cost you up to 10,000€," tweeted one X user, formerly known as Twitter. 

Misgendering is when you intentionally use the wrong gendered language, such as pronouns when referring to someone else. For example, referring to a woman as “he”. 

To deadname someone is to call or refer to them by the name they no longer use, usually their birth name, from before their gender transition.

The main goal of the German bill is to make legal gender changes easier for trans, intersex, and non-binary people. 

Under current rules, individuals must submit two psychological assessments to change their gender legally. 

People who have gone through the process have complained that it is long, expensive, and humiliating.

The proposal does mention a maximum fine of up to €10,000, but not for deadnaming or misgendering someone. 

It’s actually for maliciously disclosing confidential information such as revealing someone’s previously assigned gender against their will. 

According to the website of the German Ministry for Family Affairs, a person’s previously assigned gender should not be revealed or researched without the person’s consent. But there are exceptions to this rule especially when it comes to law enforcement. 

“There is no general ban on "misgendering" or "deadnaming" in the [bill],” says the government website.

The Ministry also insists that "only intentional behavior is taken into account because acts of negligence are not sanctioned."

However, intense bullying of a trans person is already punishable by law since it’s considered harassment. 

The proposed "Self-Determination Act" - a flagship of Social Democratic Chancellor Olaf Scholz's coalition government - has yet to be submitted to the country's Parliament for approval.

If passed, the law will allow Germany to join a list of a few countries in Europe that have already embraced the legal principle of self-determination, including Belgium, Spain, Ireland, Luxembourg, and Denmark.

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