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Germany — Annette Riedl / AP
Germany — Annette Riedl / AP

Germany makes it easier to change legal name and gender
On April 12, the German parliament passed a law that will make it easier for Transgender, Nonbinary, and Intersex people to change their name and gender. The "self-determination law" was approved 374 to 251 with 11 abstaining, and will take effect Nov. 1. Germany will join Denmark, Finland, and Spain, among others, with similar legislation.

The law allows anyone to legally change their gender and first name. Applicants will have to notify registry offices three months in advance but will not be required to take any additional steps.

The previous "Transsexual law," in place since the 1980s, required applicants to undergo assessments by Trans experts, and to receive an approval from court, before legally changing their gender. Prior to this law, Trans people were required to undergo sexual reassignment surgery before changing any documents, and even in some cases to get divorced or sterilized, provisions which significantly harmed the Trans community.

Nyke Slawik, a Transgender woman elected to the German parliament in 2021, has endured these struggles around legal identification. "It is about time that we put an end to the unnecessarily long expert opinions and court proceedings to change names," she said. "And that we finally respect the dignity of Transgender, Intersex, and Nonbinary people today."

The law does not relate to gender reassignment surgeries, focusing only on legal identity. It will apply to adults, but teenagers 14 years and older may change their legal name and gender with parental approval. If a parent disagrees with the choice, the applicant may take the case to family court. For those under 14, parents and guardians will have to apply on the child's behalf.

The law has encountered conservative opposition, like many of the socially liberal reforms under Chancellor Olaf Scholz's government.

Vatican condemns gender-affirming surgery, gender theory, and surrogacy
The Vatican has issued a new Infinite Dignity doctrine, at Pope Francis's behest, declaring gender-affirming surgery, surrogacy, and gender theory as "grave threats" to humanity. The doctrine, a 20-page document detailing violations of human dignity, lists these "threats" among such things as sexual abuse, poverty, war, assisted dying, and abortion. The document took five years to put together, and was ultimately approved with his signature.

To Pope Francis, the difference between the sexes is "the greatest possible difference that exists between living beings." For threatening that distinction, he considers gender theory an "ugly ideology," stating that "canceling out the differences means canceling out humanity."

The document also condemns the idea of a person changing their gender, stating that "any sex-change intervention, as a rule, risks threatening the unique dignity the person has received from the moment of conception." The concept of self-determination in gender theory seems to lie at the root of this condemnation. "Desiring a personal self-determination," the document continues, "apart from this fundamental truth that human life is a gift, amounts to a concession to the age-old temptation to make oneself God."

In line with denouncing matters of personal choice, including the church's stance against the right to abortion, the doctrine also condemns surrogacy for its supposed violation of the dignity of the woman involved.

Pope Francis has had a reputation thus far for uplifting oppressed groups, particularly poor and immigrant communities, with past efforts to appeal to the LGBTQ community. Last year, he approved a document that allowed priests to give blessings to same-sex couples. It also granted Transgender people the ability to get baptized, become a godparent, or act as a witness for weddings. He also condemned laws that criminalize same-sex relationships as "unjust," regarding homosexuality not as a crime but as a sin, and considers the mistreatment of LGBTQ people a sin as well. The Infinity Doctrine takes an entirely different direction from these endeavors.

Uganda — Themba Hadebe / AP  

Uganda cites US anti-abortion ruling to uphold Anti-Homosexuality Act
On April 3, Uganda's highest court cited the US Supreme Court's Dobbs v. Jackson ruling to reject a petition to overturn the Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023 (AHA23). Originally adopted in May last year, the act is considered among the harshest anti-Gay legislation in the world. It sentences those in same-sex relationships or "promoting homosexuality" to up to 20 years of prison, and in some cases death.

In 2022, Dobbs v. Jackson overturned Roe v. Wade, removing the right to an abortion. In upholding AHA23, the Ugandan court stated that Dobbs "considered the nation's history and traditions, as well as the dictates of democracy and rule of law, to overrule the broader right to individual autonomy."

The Dobbs decision has been praised by supporters of anti-LGBTQ legislation for its notable ability to reverse personal liberties. Back in February, the Supreme Court of Alabama used Dobbs to support its declaration of frozen embryos as people, which resulted in the shutdown of fertility clinics and IVF procedures.

Report in England leads to scaling back gender services for Trans youth
Back in 2019, retired pediatrician Dr. Hillary Cass was selected to lead a review of gender-affirming services provided by the UK's National Health Service, which largely involve puberty blockers and hormone therapy, and to publish her findings. After five years, Cass has concluded that Trans children are not benefiting from these "unproven treatments" but that they deserve better care. She attributed this lack of sufficient care to poor evidence and toxic debate.

"For most young people, a medical pathway will not be the best way to manage their gender-related distress," Cass said. "For those young people for whom a medical pathway is clinically indicated, it is not enough to provide this without also addressing wider mental health and/or psychosocially challenging problems."

Part of this review has been a call for more holistic care and pushing back against puberty blockers. Cass claimed that the lack of research and the fear stemming from the larger debate about Trans rights are the reasons many patients are passed straight on to gender services.

The review has received praise from anti-Trans psychologist Dr. David Bell and "gender abolitionist" Julie Bindel, as well as conservative news sources. Cass has emphasized that these findings were not intended to invalidate Trans identities or inhibit anyone's right to transition. Her report stressed that "while some young people may feel an urgency to transition, young adults looking at their younger selves would often advise slowing down. ... The reality is we have no good evidence on the long-term outcomes of interventions to manage gender-related distress."

Cass included in her report that six of the seven NHS gender services specialists in England had refused her request to obtain the health outcomes of those treated by gender identity services for analysis and improvement of future care.

Since the release of Cass's review, the use of puberty blockers in the UK for those under 18 has been halted except for clinical trials.