The following statement, was published in the form of a guest commentary, on the website of the online magazine HIM

For they do not know what they're doing – or do they?
The Self-Determination Act has been passed and anger is rising.

In the news of the last few days, it has been announced again and again with exultation: the Self-Determination Act is coming. A day of joy for some, a day of disaster for others. The latter's voice has rarely been heard in major public media. In the run-up to the event, the women demonstrating for their rights were insulted on social media as fascists and denigrated as “TERFs”. Misogyny was, is and remains a constant, only the pretext changes. Accusations of being a “TERF”are used to discredit critical women and to silence them "at best". The so-called Self-Determination Act, on closer inspection, turns out to be the law of heteronomy for the majority of our population.

"Forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" comes to mind with regard to the passing of the Self-Determination Act. Now the day has come and nothing is as it was. Joy on the one hand and a lot of suffering on the other. A law permeated by ideology and excessive demands that society will not support. In the debate before the vote, Union politician Mareike Lotte Wulf said: "We consider this kind of policy to be wrong, even more, we consider it to be socially explosive." That's exactly what it is. Explosive. Sahra Wagenknecht from BSW (Bündnis Sahra Wagenknecht) added shortly afterwards: "Ideology triumphs over reality. Gender goes from being a biological fact to a matter of state of mind." A law that changes everything for everyone and has massive consequences for women and young people – and in our opinion contradicts the German Constitution in several respects.

A bitter day for women

Every man can now be declared a woman without any prerequisites and thus has access to all of women’s spaces. The governing coalition (Social Democrats, FDP, Greens) is appeasing its critics by saying that the right of refusal will be preserved. Even within the coalition, however, there are different assessments of this. The general exclusion of transwomen from a women's sauna, for example, would in all likelihood constitute criminal discrimination. Courts will have to clarify how the law is to be applied, unless it is completely overturned. As things stand now, women are losing all the shelters they have fought for, quota regulations are becoming obsolete and statistics can show falsified results. Hospital rooms for women are history, because every man now gains access through the magic words and if someone says something, fines of up to 10,000 euros can be imposed.
In Spain, men recently declared themselves to be women thanks to the country's self-determination law – why? They demanded to be admitted to women's shelters in order to get to their wives, who were hiding there from their abusive husbands. But this, as we hear again and again, is only the fantasy of "evil TERFs" and cannot happen in the new perceived reality – until it happens. Then the second line of reasoning comes into play: individual cases. All. Again and again. Around the world.

The whole debate clearly shows what happens to women when they say no. Hatred, exclusion, contempt and defamation are the result. Unfortunately, it is to be feared that the adoption that has now taken place will take us to another level in the form of lawsuits against unpopular women and feminists with the aim of finally silencing them. Women who say no and rebel are apparently still a bogeyman and are still denied democratic rights.

Other, highly controversial projects are already in the planning stage. Egg donation is to be made possible and surrogacy is to be legalised in parts. The exploitation of women is legitimised by the state. The overall result is that bitter times are coming for women and one can only hope that the next government will once again act for their benefit. What is currently happening to women can be summed up in one word: deprivation of rights. It therefore leaves a particularly bitter taste in the mouth when the Federal Government's Queer Commissioner describes the Self-Determination Act as a "feminist law".


S2K guideline and developments in England

Proponents repeatedly emphasise that the Self-Determination Act does not provide for medical measures. In principle, this is correct, but perhaps this was only done as a tactical manoeuvre, because the new law did not require the approval of the Bundesrat. If so, then the strategic manoeuvre is the right of the coalition. In any case, this question will be regulated by the upcoming S2K guidelines. However, the Self-Determination Act is indirectly responsible for this. It is the first step of minors to the desire for medical measures, and well-founded studies such as the recent "Cass Report" from England show in detail that a change in the civil status of children promotes and favours further medical steps, even more, it provides for a direct consequence - to refuse this perhaps over time is then particularly difficult for young people. While just a few weeks ago the press reported favourably on the S2K guideline, the reporting here is now changing. On 11.04.2024, the Süddeutsche online wrote: "Data on the treatment of trans children and adolescents insufficient". In Great Britain, the treatment of children and adolescents, for example with puberty blockers, is collapsing completely. Many speak of a medical scandal and the reappraisal begins. Vocal advocates of this treatment are now being morally condemned and there are already thousands of lawsuits. Just days earlier, it was announced that the Netherlands would completely bury its planned self-determination law, because it now recognizes "real risks to the safety of women," and gender reassignment "should not be too easy." Germany, meanwhile, seems to be continuing undeterred.

Why should gay men care?

The discussions on the Self-Determination Act have already created a toxic atmosphere. As the author of this op-ed and director of Just Gay, I have already experienced hate attacks, but I have been able to endure it so far. However, this is not true for everyone. Unconditional obedience is demanded by parts of the queer community. Anyone who does not follow this is out and, in many cases, would no longer receive funding from the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, on whose cash flow so many queer associations now depend.

In principle, the law contradicts Article 3 of the Constitution by replacing biological sex with gender. All of a sudden, we are gender, an identity, a social construct or whatever. How can it be that in 2024 the state begins to redefine gay men and passes a law that considers biological sex irrelevant? What, then, is homosexuality? Furthermore, gay men are now all "queer". But what is queer? There isn't even a single definition of this. What we are experiencing is an encroachment on our rights.

It can already be heard that further funding will be linked to whether gay organisations call themselves queer in the future or not (contradiction to Article 3 of the Constitution and Article 5 of the Constitution) – they will then no longer be allowed to be exclusively only for gay men or lesbian women.
Many wonder what this is all about? It is our right to be among ourselves. But what does this have to do with the Self-Determination Act? There is a danger that, for example, an advocacy group such as Just Gay will have to accept every person who identifies as a gay man in the future. Yes, there should be a right of refusal, but does that really count here? Or rather the Anti-Discrimination Act? One is the possible refusal of funding. To be guilty of hatred and discrimination is something else. Another topic that concerns us is conversion therapy in a new guise.

Conversion 2.0

A straight daughter instead of a gay son? This sounds dystopian, but it is a bitter reality. Parents can change the gender of their children and one of the reasons could be a supposed homosexuality. The Self-Determination Act can dispel concerns. A son instead of a daughter? The Self-Determination Act offers undreamt-of possibilities. Outsiders wonder if this can be true. Proponents counter that this is nonsense. But it is written in the law and therefore the counter-question must be asked what the meaning behind it is. For many, this regulation is just "insane" and has nothing to do with the reality of life. For many, the reservations are confirmed that this law encourages child abuse and, in conjunction with the S2K (clinical) guidelines, can have serious consequences. Protection of psychologists is not to be expected. Even if they are convinced that the cause of distress in their patient lies in homosexuality, for example because it cannot be lived out, they will not be able to intervene, as that would be considered conversion therapy. Thus, many psychologists and therapists will simply wave through any self-defined gender identity, even in children. Parents who do not agree to the child's trans request will be taken to the family court. What's more, if the Youth Welfare Office is involved, there is a risk of losing custody. It is a massive encroachment on parental rights (Article 6 of the Constitution) and they cannot and will not accept that. It's just a matter of time. Here, too, the path leads to the Federal Constitutional Court.

Stereotypes 2.0

The son plays with dolls, the daughter with the excavator? Something can't be right. Stereotypes and sexist role models are currently making a comeback. It's a throwback to worse times. A boy wears blue, a girl pink, and if that's not the case, then there's a possibility they might be trans. Feminine men and masculine women are apparently no longer allowed to exist - what a step backwards.
Freedom of opinion?

The prohibition of disclosure provides for penalties of up to 10,000 euros if the old name and/or gender is researched and disclosed with harmful intent. The extent to which freedom of expression (Article 5 of the Constitution) is encroached upon here will have to be clarified by the courts. This also applies to the clarification of when a fine is due or not. Are the terms transwoman, biological man and transgender man already a punishable revelation or simply a fact? It has already been announced suggested on social media that transpeople will might then be excluded from any social interaction, simply because otherwise people expose themselves to the risk of being sentenced to a fine.

What's next?

Disputes over this law will increase, lawsuits have already been announced, and the division of the rainbow community will increase. Gay men and lesbians complain about the conditions behind closed doors and increasingly reject queer politics. Of course, most of them cannot and do not want to say anything, because any criticism can have consequences. To be classified as "politically right-wing" is due to the spirit of the times. But what is "right-wing"? From a subjective point of view, everything that is not queer, green and left-wing is now right-wing. The toxic mood still persists and there is no improvement in sight. The situation can be seen as a complete failure of the coalition, which has failed to take everyone on board, instead of just its clientele. What damage to democracy! Announced measures to prevent abuse, such as the AGG (Anti-Discrimination Act), seems to be a waste. There are different statements about their effectiveness.

The coalition emphasises that there will be no abuse and refers to foreign countries. This can at least be rated as "strange". There are plenty of examples where the law on self-determination has already been abused. As a result, open resistance in the USA and Great Britain is breaking its spell. They can't or don't want to see it. One reason could be that promises have to be kept at any price in order to satisfy one's own clientele. Perhaps also as a fear of their reaction if the project had failed. The problem, however, is that we all bear the consequences.

The first developments can already be seen. The women's rights movement (e.g. Frauenheldinnen e.V.) is experiencing a comeback. Also here in Germany, lesbian and heterosexual women are organising for themselves. Many gay men are now coming out of hiding and rebelling. Organisations have been founded in recent months and years to get involved politically. We can expect years of debate, both from supporters who still don't think the law goes far enough, and from opponents who want to abolish it. Rarely has a law polarised as much as this one and generated such defensive reactions. It is not to be assumed that calm will return. Politicians are now also facing headwinds. The yes to the Self-Determination Act is proudly published on X. The reactions were not long in coming. The upcoming election campaign is close and the hashtag "#FDPunter5Prozent" can already be seen on social networks and the statement that the parties of the coalition are no longer electable. While the coalition is still celebrating its success, the first members of parliament are already feeling the full wrath of the critics. Time will tell whether the decision will have an impact on the election polls for the parties, and the European elections in June are likely to be a first test of the mood. For quite a few, the FDP in particular is a disappointment – a party that has made freedom its political brand core supports a law that undermines women's freedom. Election day is payday – the elections will show whether that really happens.
Society at large has still not heard about the law and only time will tell how they react to it. Conflicts are inevitable. Parents who find themselves in a family court will no longer understand the world and will not understand what they are accused of. But is the coalition now the only thing to criticise? No. Society and the media can also be blamed for their ignorance. Many of us have been immersed in the topic for years and educated ourselves, but only a few people listened. The word "rollback" comes up more and more often in the rainbow community. The fear that society has had enough of queer politics and basically everyone will be blamed for it. Since 2023, several studies have shown that the acceptance of both queer people and homosexuals is declining again for the first time in several countries, including Germany.

Just Gay is not going to be inclusive, nor are we going underground. We are an organisation of gay men for gay men. We refuse the state's homophobia and say no. If we are sued for this, it would be advisable to go directly to the Federal Constitutional Court. We trust that our actions are in accordance with the Constitution because we are exercising our fundamental democratic rights. Nor will we go underground or allow ourselves to be marginalised. Gay men have experienced decades of political persecution and we are not prepared to allow or even tacitly accept a repetition.

The coalition emphasises that the Self-Determination Act is a win for everyone, because nothing would be taken away from anyone. One can only hope that this is also the case and that the criticisms and accusations mentioned turn out to be false. As we all know, hope springs eternal. For the protagonists, the film will most likely end in disaster. None of the proponents can claim in retrospect that he or she knew nothing, because everything was and is known. Until reasonable solutions are forthcoming, quite a few will bear the personal consequences. This law changes everything for everyone and yes, it can be considered historic. A turning point for the rights of women and homosexuals, but unfortunately not in a positive sense. Years after marriage equality, many people are once again becoming aware that our rights can be taken away from us at any time. We have to fight for them again.

Florian Greller
Initiator and Director of Just Gay – The Advocacy Group of and for Gay Men