German Bill on Self-Determination of Gender ('Selbstbestimmungsgesetz') - Dr. Bettina Rentsch

Event date
9 November 2023
Event time
15:00 - 16:30
Oxford week
MT 5
Faculty of Law - White & Case Room

Notes & Changes

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In Germany, birth register entries include a mention of gender. Legal gender is generally established at birth and regularly assessed by virtue of sex. Subsequent changes require judicial proceedings and are considered harmful on applicants. A recently adopted Draft Bill on Gender Self-Determination changes the paradigm towards a full recognition for self-identified gender. This means to improve the social recognition of self-identified gender and to "ensure it receive respect and respectful treatment“. Under the reform, which will be put to parliament, transgender, intersex and non-binary individuals would be able to change their details in future simply with a visit to the local civil registry office.

The Feminist Jurisprudence Discussion Group and the Private Law Research Group will jointly host Dr. Rentsch to discuss her work on the bill. In her presentation, she will provide a brief outline of the operative provisions of the Draft Bill, and the heated political discussion around it. This will be followed by a discussion on the gender recognition scheme provided, with a focus in particular on the bill's private law aspects,  such as the duty to change one’s name, personal status, etc. While there are good reasons to consider the Draft Bill a milestone in achieving gender recognition, Dr Rentsch considers it infused with what she calls "patriarchal narratives". Several aspects of the Draft Bill carry ascriptive logics and work with heteronormative stereotypes. Also, the justifications given for restricting gender recognition vis-à-vis public authorities and third parties bear paternalist underpinnings.

Tea, coffee, and refreshments will be served.

About the Speaker - Dr. Bettina Rentsch

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Bettina Rentsch is an Assistant Professor for European Private Law, Private International Law and Comparative Law at Freie Universität Berlin's Department of Law.

Her work focuses on the foundations and current challenges of Private International Law from a Law and Society Perspective. She takes special interest in the interplay of the European court and legislative system, Private International Law and collective action (and redress) and the Private International Law of "responsible" businessmaking.

Bettina holds a First State Exam in Law from the University of Freiburg and the State of Baden-Württemberg (High Honors '13), a Doctoral Degree in Law from the University of Heidelberg (s.c.l., '16), a Master of Laws from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (LL.M., m.c.l. equivalent, '16) and Bar Exam equivalent from the Higher Regional Court of Berlin ('19).


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