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German court rules that trans woman cannot be child's mother

08 January 2018

By Dr Lanay Griessner

Appeared in BioNews 932

Germany's Federal Court of Justice (BGH) has ruled that the a trans woman must be registered as her child's legal father and not its mother.

The woman, who was assigned male at birth, froze sperm before undergoing gender reassignment and has been legally living as a woman since 2012. She is in a same-sex marriage, and in 2015 her spouse gave birth to a child conceived using the frozen sperm.

Prior to the child's birth, the couple made a written request to have both partners listed as mothers of the child in order to correspond with their gender identities. The birth registry denied this request and listed only the birth mother as the mother, and the wife who provided the sperm as the biological father. The couple unsuccessfully sued the birth registry in the Schöneberg regional court, and appealed to the BGH, which upheld the regional court's decision. 

The BGH concluded that: 'The trans person's fundamental rights aren't breached by the fact that existing ancestry law assigns her the legal status of parent according to her former sex and the specific contribution to procreation that resulted from this.'

Therefore, providing the sperm makes a person the father and the person who gives birth is always the mother, regardless of their legal genders. This was confirmed in a September 2017 case where the BGH ruled that a trans man who gave birth was considered the mother of his child, and not the father, even though he was no longer legally a woman.

Gabriela Lünsmann, board member for the Lesbian and Gay Association (LSVD) of Germany criticised the ruling for infringing a transgendered person's right to parent according to their gender identity. The LSVD is now calling for reform to the existing law to allow for more gender neutral parental assignments in the future. 

News 24 | 04 January 2018
Deutsche Welle | 04 January 2018
Lesbian and Gay Association, Germany | 04 January 2018


13 November 2017 - by Sean Byrne 
A woman has been denied legal parenthood of her surrogate-born child because she is single, despite being the genetic mother...
15 August 2016 - by Dr Mary Yarwood 
Transgender men are being permitted to freeze their eggs at NHS-funded fertility clinics, prior to gender re-assignment...
15 August 2016 - by Ryan Ross 
Three same-sex female couples are suing the US state of New Jersey for what they claim are discriminatory rules regarding the funding of fertility treatment...
15 May 2012 - by Dr Vardit Ravitsky and Professor David Heyd 
Sex reassignment is an intricate and sensitive physiological, psychological, and social process that usually entails the loss of reproductive capacity. Reproductive technology can prevent this loss, but should it be used for that purpose? A recent case in Israel raises this question...

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