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Equal rights
Art. 3, 1, 2

Deadname on student ID card: Humboldt-University of Berlin discriminates against trans, inter and non-binary students

Trans, inter and non-binary students at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin are not allowed to use a first name that corresponds to their gender identity.

The GFF, jointly with the student group Unitin* and the German Society for Trans Identity and Intersexuality (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Transidentität und Intersexualität e.V.), has filed a representative action under the Berlin State Anti-Discrimination Act (LADG) against the Humboldt University of Berlin (HU). HU currently denies trans, inter and non-binary students the right to use the identity name corresponding to their gender on all important university documents. Universities in Berlin, however, are required to allow this independently from an official change of first name and gender marker. HU did not comprehensively remedy this in the prior complaint procedure.

Paying in the cafeteria, borrowing a book from the library or using public transportation: All of this runs via the CampusCard. This ID card is an essential part of the everyday life of all students. It is hence all the more important that it is issued in the right name. At HU, however, trans, inter and non-binary students are denied the right to have their correct name on their student ID. This exposes them to the risk of being outed against their will at any time. Alternatively, students must accept being misaddressed. However, deadnaming - using a person's former name against their will - denies people their gender identity and is deeply hurtful.

HU only allows students to adjust their name on record if they have officially changed it under the Transsexuals Act (TSG) or Personal Status Act (PStG). However, the TSG is unconstitutional in parts and sets unreasonable requirements for an official name change. It is associated with waiting periods of several years, high costs and time-consuming, sometimes humiliating expert opinions. Changing a first name according to the PStG is much simpler and less expensive, as it only requires a declaration to the registry office and a medical certificate. However, this procedure is currently only open to intersex individuals.


Trans, inter, and non-binary students have a constitutionally protected right to use a first name that corresponds to their gender and to be addressed by that name - even before the name and gender registration have been officially changed. Accordingly, it must also be possible to change the first name on enrollment certificates and the student ID in a low-threshold manner. Berlin universities that do not make this possible in an appropriate manner are clearly in violation of the LADG.


The GFF had already submitted a request to HU under the Freedom of Information Act (IFG) as part of the complaint procedure to be able to review the administrative and service regulations with rules on first name changes in the university's internal administrative system. However, the HU rejected the request. It reasoned that there were no such administrative and service regulations. On the other hand, the university deliberately withholds its decision-making processes on how regulations are made. It bases this on the protection of undisturbed official decision-making under § 10 IFG Berlin.


Since April 1, 2022, the HU has made it possible to use the identity name in internal correspondence and in technical systems, among other things. Students can now, for example, register for courses in the HU online system AGNES under their correct first name. A name change has also been possible for some time on the Moodle learning platform and in video conferencing systems. However, the enrollment certificate and the particularly important CampusCard remain exempt from the changes. In everyday university life, therefore, de facto hardly anything has changed for trans, inter and non-binary students.

HU has hence only partially remedied the complaint. Therefore, the GFF has filed an association complaint.

The complaint of the GFF was at the same time the starting signal for a new complaint fund. The goal is to specifically bring structural discrimination in Berlin before the courts. To this end, we are working together with individuals and counseling organizations such as the Anti-Discrimination Network Berlin of the Turkish Federation in Berlin-Brandenburg. With this lawsuit, the GFF was the first organization to make use of the possibility of filing an action by association under the LADG.

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