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Hundreds of Swiss change gender using simplified process

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Since January 1, anyone who wants to change their official gender no longer has to go to court in Switzerland Keystone / Robert Ghement

Several hundred people in Switzerland have changed their official gender since the introduction of a simplified registry process at the beginning of the year. In the big cities alone, 350 people have done so.

Eighty people changed their gender in Zurich, 47 in Basel, 46 in Bern, 36 in Geneva and 19 in Lucerne, according to a survey by the NZZ am Sonntag. Those involved were aged between 12 and 75, with nine people younger than 16. The proportion of those who switched from female to male was slightly higher than from male to female.

Since January 1, anyone who wants to change their official gender no longer has to go to court in Switzerland. Transgender and intersex people can now change their first name and gender in the civil registry without bureaucratic complications. There are no longer any medical examinations or other prerequisites.

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Civil registries gave a positive preliminary assessment of the new law. “The goal was to keep the hurdles as low as possible, and now they are,” Roland Peterhans, president of the Swiss Civil Registry Association, said in an interviewExternal link with the NZZ am Sonntag. “If there had been people wanting to change their gender and then change back again after three weeks, we would have had to go over the books. But we didn’t have these cases.”

He was also not aware of any systematic abuses. “We haven’t seen any men change gender in order to retire earlier or to avoid military service,” he said. Women can currently retire at 64 in Switzerland, men at 65; military service is compulsory for men, optional for women.

Peterhans said he had personally dealt with around 30 cases and had met people who had been registered under the wrong gender for many years and were now happy to be able to take this step.

“It’s incredible progress for them that they no longer have to expose themselves in court,” he said.

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