In its session of October 27, 2021, the Swiss Federal Council — Switzerland’s government — in accordance with amendments passed by the Swiss parliament, decided that effective January 1, 2022, transgender persons or persons with a gender variance will be able to change their gender marker and first name quickly and without bureaucratic hurdles. The Swiss parliament had adopted the amendment to the Swiss Civil Code (Zivilgesetzbuch, ZGB) and the amendment to the Civil Status Ordinance (Zivilstandsverordnung, ZStV) on December 18, 2020.
Affected persons must simply state at the civil registry that they are firmly convinced that their registered gender does not match their gender identity to change the entry. They may choose one or more new first names. Persons under 16 years of age or persons who are subject to various types of guardianship require permission from their legal representative for the change. (ZGB new art. 30b.)
The amendments do not introduce a third gender option in Switzerland. Family law relationships, such as marriage, registered partnerships, and parentage, are also not affected.
Background on a Third Gender in Switzerland
Swiss law currently recognizes only binary gender (male and female). The gender of the child is one of the mandatory entries in the civil registry when a child is born. (ZStV art. 8.) The parents are obligated to notify the civil registry office within three days of the birth. (Art. 35, para. 1, sentence 1 in conjunction with art. 8.) The Swiss Federal Civil Registry Office (Eidgenössisches Amt für das Zivilstandswesen, EAZW) has stated that it is not possible to leave the gender entry open if the gender cannot be clearly determined at birth. Either a female or a male gender must be entered. (Official Notice from the EAZW at 3.)However, two parliamentary motions are pending to introduce a third gender or to eliminate gender entries altogether. The Swiss Federal Council is currently working on a report to address these motions.