Fact Check: New German Law Does NOT Introduce Fines For Incorrect Pronouns To Address Trans People -- It Punishes Forced Outing

Fact Check

  • by: Uliana Malashenko
Fact Check: New German Law Does NOT Introduce Fines For Incorrect Pronouns To Address Trans People -- It Punishes Forced Outing Wrong Offense

Did Germany pass a law that includes fines of up to 10,000 euros for using a wrong pronoun while referring to a transgender person? No, that's not true: The law specifically says that what is punishable is a malicious disclosure of that person's birth gender or of their deadname (the name they used prior to transition) without their consent. It does not include fines for misgendering.

The story appeared in a reel (archived here) on Facebook where it was published by PragerU on April 30, 2024, under the title:

$10,800 FINE FOR


In the video, the host continued:

This was never just about 'acceptance.' This is about forcing you to comply with their moral standards, and they are now willing to strip you of your right to free speech to get it.

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Screen Shot 2024-05-06 at 10.23.51 AM.png

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Mon May 6 14:23:51 2024 UTC)

However, the host's implications about the purported dangers to "free speech" misled audiences about the nature and the purpose of the new law.

The Act on self-determination with regard to gender entry (archived here) adopted by the German parliament in the amended form (archived here) on April 12, 2024, focuses on "giving people the opportunity to change their gender entry and first name without discrimination," according to (archived here) the Bundestag website, as translated by Chrome.

A separate document (archived here) on the website of the Ministry for Families emphasizes that the law does not discuss using wrong pronouns -- it introduces punishment for disclosure of sensitive information without a person's consent:

The Self-Determination Act should contain a so-called ban on disclosure - as protection against forced outing: previous gender entries should not be revealed or researched without the consent of the person concerned, unless special reasons of public interest require this or a legal interest is credibly demonstrated. ...

Violation of the disclosure ban is now punishable by a fine. The fine presupposes that the disclosure intentionally harms the person concerned.

(Translated by Chrome.)

It adds:

There is no general ban on "misgendering" or "deadnaming"... Repeated or particularly intense behavior ("bullying") may already be covered by existing criminal provisions.

(Translated by Chrome.)

"Deadname" refers to a person's birth name that is no longer used after transitioning.

The summary of the new German law published on the website of the Library of Congress (archived here) repeats:

The former gender entry or name may not be disclosed without consent of the affected person except if there is an overriding public or legal interest. Intentional violations are subject to a fine of up to 10,000 euros (about US$10,972). (§§ 11, 12.)

News reports published, for example, by BBC (archived here) and EuroNews (archived here) do not say anything about the application of the fines beyond what is prescribed in the law.

About PragerU

It is, in its own words, not an accredited or degree-granting institution.

The PragerU page on Facebook discloses its affiliation with a 501(c)(3) nonprofit called "Prager University Foundation" (archived here). That, however, is not a real university (archived here) -- it is a conservative group whose media resources, according to Media Bias (archived here), promote an extreme right agenda, using questionable sources and spreading false claims. The Southern Poverty Law Center described (archived here) PragerU as an "indispensable propaganda device for the right."

According to the Los Angeles Times (arrived here), a key part of the strategy utilized by PragerU is that it "mixes intensely partisan videos with apolitical content." According to that article, its annual budget exceeded $20 million in 2019.

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  Uliana Malashenko

Uliana Malashenko is a New York-based freelance writer and fact checker.

Read more about or contact Uliana Malashenko

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