Should I consider changing my first name?

Trans people should be able to change gender and first name unbureaucratically

The Federal Council

Bern, May 24, 2018 - Trans people and people with a gender variant should in future be able to change their gender and first name in the civil status register unbureaucratically. At its meeting on May 23, 2018, the Federal Council submitted a corresponding amendment to the Civil Code for consultation. He is continuing his policy of aligning civil law with people's actual needs and realities.

In order to improve the situation of trans people and people with a gender variant, the Federal Council wants to simplify the change of gender and first name in the civil status register. People who are firmly convinced that they do not belong to the gender entered in the civil status register should be able to change their gender and first name with a simple declaration. A prior medical examination is not necessary. If the person in question is married, the marriage continues; the same applies to the registered partnership. Child relationships also remain unchanged.

With the proposed changes, the Federal Council is adapting the legislation to the specific situation in which people with a trans identity or gender variant find themselves. The revision is on the same line as various reforms of the civil code in recent years, for example in custody, maintenance and adoption law. The aim of these reforms is to align civil law with the real needs and the different realities of life of the population.

Changing the register entry is difficult today

Today, every child has to be registered with the registry office with their family and first names, their parentage and gender within three days of their birth. For the forty or so children with a variant of gender development who are born annually in Switzerland, today's regulation is difficult and often burdensome: even if the medical staff cannot determine the sex of the newborn, the child still has to be male or female Gender must be registered with the registry office. The gender and first name can only be changed later in administrative or judicial proceedings.

Trans people, whose gender identity differs from the gender assigned at birth, also face great difficulties. According to projections, there are 100 to 200 trans people in Switzerland who have already had an operation or who are considering an operation. Until recently, they could only change the sex in the civil status register after surgical sterilization and an operative adjustment of the genital organs. If they were married, they also had to get a divorce beforehand. Today, such requirements are disregarded. However, since there is no clear legal regulation, trans people still have to overcome high hurdles: They have to seek legal recognition of the gender change in a court of law. Legal practice is inconsistent and the procedures are perceived as unduly lengthy and expensive. That is why the Federal Council would like to adapt the civil code.

Irrespective of the proposed revision of the law, the Federal Council is currently examining whether the implementing provisions and the civil status register should be adjusted in order to extend the three-day period for registering the gender with the registry office if the gender cannot be determined immediately after the birth. In the past, sometimes irreversible gender-determining operations were performed on children without medical necessity due to social pressure.

Report on the question of a third gender

The proposed amendment to the Civil Code does not introduce a third gender. The Federal Council is convinced, however, that Switzerland will have to grapple with the question of introducing a third gender. That is why in February of this year he recommended the adoption of the postulates of NR Sibel Arslan (17.4121) and NR Rebecca Ruiz (17.4185), which call for such a test, and agreed to prepare a report on this question.

Address for queries

Michel Montini, Federal Office of Justice FOJ, T +41 58 462 58 61


The Federal Council

Federal Department of Justice and Police

Federal Office of Justice