Those regulations that affect the least people are fought with the greatest zeal, one could also say: tackle something. Marriage for All was an example, and now it is the Self-Determination Act.

The simplified possibility of changing one’s own name, i.e. adapting it to one’s perceived gender, has nothing to do with the everyday reality of the majority. There were not even 2,700 applications for such adjustments in 2020 at the German courts, which – in addition to doctors – are still responsible for determining whether Thorben can be Tina or Felicitas Felix in an identity card. That is in the per thousand range of the population.

However, one can safely assume that many more people will make use of the planned self-determination law. Under the previous regulations, many of those affected simply did not dare to start the long and difficult path through the authorities.

If there were no coverage of the new law (which of course I wouldn’t call for or support!), almost no one outside of those affected would even know about it – even if the number of amendments doubled or tripled. Nevertheless, there is resistance, especially in liberal-conservative circles. One wonders why.

One of the arguments is some kind of deadline regulation planned in the draft, which allows such a change to be made no more than once a year. This is very reasonable for two reasons.

Since the rule already applies to young people (which can and must be discussed!), it would otherwise not be possible to rule out the possibility that a wrong decision made about identity, for whatever reason, can no longer be repaired. That would be devastating.

On a second level, it protects against abuse and clowning by would-be activists who, in order to prove anything, change their gender identity (specified in their identity card) like a party costume. It’s not about being allowed to change your gender once a year, but about being able to correct a mistake.

To believe that this decision, which is extremely stressful for those affected and for the environment, is subject to the whims of the day is simply nonsense.

A second point that can be heard is made with an indignant shrug: Don’t we have anything more important to do? Shouldn’t energy security, inflation, the Ukraine war, rising costs in general, and the chaos at airports and on the railways be in the foreground? Germany is about to freeze, and we’re discussing changing a few names! 40 million drivers of cars with internal combustion engines are actually a gigantic number of people than maybe 10,000 or 20,000 or even 200,000 beneficiaries of the Self-Determination Act.

But in the outrage – behind which in reality there is often only the concern that perceived social majority positions are being sacrificed to political ideologies – people forget that politics is concerned with energy requirements, with inflation, with the war. The Self-Determination Act is just a grain of sand in a mound of laws, rules and measures that the federal government has been discussing and passing for a good six months.

There is a minimum wage, 100 billion special funds and subsidies for petrol and diesel. Much of it is too hasty, too expensive, not effective enough, no question about it. This is not due to the self-determination law, but to the government that was democratically elected last autumn.

However, every government must also respond to the needs of smaller and smallest groups – this is how democracy works, which is not only a majority dogma, but also a protection of minorities. And on closer inspection: gender identity is a purely private matter. And liberals in particular should be able to live with that – after all, this is a clear sign of individual freedom that is not even bought at a high price.