Switzerland will allow individuals to legally change their names and gender markers without having to undergo medical procedures or evaluation starting on January 1, 2022.
The new law allows anyone over the age of 16, and who is not under “legal guardianship,” to change their name and gender markers at the civil registry office simply by self-declaration, Reuters reports. Guardian consent will be required for anyone under 16, or who is under some form of legal guardianship.
Under previous law, medical certification was required to verify a person’s gender identity before they could file for legal change. While the new law will be widely applicable across Switzerland starting next year, Reuters reports that certain semi-autonomous regions in the country may require that an individual undergo hormone treatment or provide other verification before officially changing their names and gender markers.
Switzerland is now one of only a handful of European countries, including Ireland, Belgium, Portugal, and Norway, to allow individuals to change their names and gender markers through self-declaration.
The new law, putting Switzerland ahead of the pack with regards to legal gender recognition, marks something of a reversal in trend for the conservative country. In September, it became one of the last countries in Western Europe to legalize same-sex marriage, by referendum vote.
Switzerland does not currently recognize a third gender option for individuals, who are required to register themselves, or newborn children, as either male or female. However, the Library of Congress reports that two motions are currently pending in the Swiss Parliament; one would create a third gender option for official certification, while the other would eliminate gender designation on official certification.