News Feed: 11 year-old girl committed to mental institution for being transgender

News that an 11 year old trans girl in Berlin, Germany, is about to be committed to a mental institution by local authorities – following intervention by her absent father – has prompted grave concern by the International LGBTQ Youth and Student Organisation (IGLYO). A petition has also been started on change.org

According to a statement released by IGLYO yesterday, the girl, elsewhere identified only as “Alex” (Alexandra) lives with her mother, who supports her gender expression. However, the girl’s father, now divorced and separated from her mother, strongly rejects this view of his daughter’s gender identity and wants to force her to grow up as a boy.

If all else fails, there is a real and present possibility that pressure from her father, supported by the Youth Welfare Office in Berlin, means that Alex will shortly be confined in a closed ward of a psychiatric institution as part of a process designed to ensure that “he” returns to “normality”.

This is despite the fact that Alex claims, in an interview published earlier this month in online lifestyle magazine taz.de, that she has identified as female for as long as she can remember. She is accepted as female at school, and has been registered as such from her earliest days there.

This led to conflict with her father, who insisted on calling her “Alexander” and forcing her to wear boy’s clothes. When Alex reacted negatively, he accused her of being badly behaved. Her parents split over the matter of Alex’s gender.

Now, with puberty fast approaching – and Alex claiming she would rather die than go through the changes it is likely to bring about – her father has besieged the Youth Office with written submissions.

His motives are unclear: what is clear is that the child has not been examined by independent experts – but a new member of staff in the Berlin Youth Office believes him and claims that the correct response to Alex’s suicide threats if she does not receive treatment for gender dysphoria is for her to be committed to a mental institution.

Alex should be encouraged to identify with male role models and to follow male pursuits: female preferences would be discouraged. Thereafter, according to a proposal that has shocked Professor Udo Rauchfleisch, a recognized expert in the care and treatment of transsexuality with the University of Basel, she should be separated from her mother and placed with foster parents.

This is rejected in a statement from IGLYO. They write: “The board of IGLYO strongly advocates the rights of transgender youth and are concerned with the institutionalization of this happy and healthy child. We would like to highlight the endangerment of forced “therapy” to make children fit into the gender roles the society thinks are right for them. IGLYO follows the wealth of research that shows that reparative therapy regarding sexual orientation or gender identity can be seriously harmful to the child.

“The Board of IGLYO declares our solidarity with the girl and her mother. Moreover, we ask the authorities of Berlin to intervene with the actions of the Youth Welfare Office and stop the removal of the child from her mother. We find it extremely irresponsible and unacceptable to remove any child from a loving and supportive home without thorough research and consultation with experts.

“In line with international human rights standards, IGLYO advocates for the best interests of the child. The institutionalization of this child violates many human rights instruments, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the European Convention on Human Rights.”

The case is now being referred upward to Germany’s supreme court.

Jane Fae

Analysis

There are clear similarities between this and approaches adopted by John Money in respect of David Reimer and David Rekers with Kirk Murphy: both cases ended badly with the subsequent suicide of the individuals – Reimer and Murphy – who were the target of this reparative therapy.

It also has echoes of techniques proposed by Kenneth Zucker, who continues to be quoted in the mainstream press as an “expert” on trans issues, but is infamous within the trans community for using what many feel to be aversion therapy on children as young as three

The news from across the world, as the fall-out from various attempts to force individuals to fit norms either in regard to their orientation or gender identity is mostly bad. It doesn’t work unless – important caveat this – it is something actively sought by the subject – and not always then. Where it is imposed, the results are rarely good, with poor socialisation, mental health problems, and suicide all common outcomes.

This proposal by the Berlin Youth Welfare Office will be regarded widely as little more than child abuse and a fundamental breach of Alex’ Human Rights.

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23 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    catherinecc said,

    *as* not ass…

  2. 2

    suisekicat said,

    What are these medieval practices?! Aversion therapy DOES NOT WORK, as has been shown time and again. They are killing this child. :(

  3. 3

    Shirley Anne said,

    This is typical fascist behaviour. No prizes for guessing the country. I do hope they see sense and get into the 21st century. We have not heard the last about this issue.

    Shirley Anne

    • 4

      eclectic chicken said,

      is it Italy.?

    • 5

      Keff said,

      As (I have to assume) an advocate for the fair and unbiased treatment of a disadvantaged group in society (transgendered) it would befit you not to pass such uninformed, blanket judgement on a whole nation (and by extension its citizens). It wasn’t true 60 years ago (all Germans were not fascists) and it’s even less true now.

      You want to fight against prejudice and ignorance in regard to transgendered? How about you stop fuelling your own and others’ prejudices? It could just as well have happened in the UK or the US or anywhere else. Don’t let this girl’s story be about old sins of earlier generations, let it be about our society now, as a whole, and the fact that one transgendered person’s struggle – no matter where in the world – is all our struggle.

      • 6

        Shirley Anne said,

        I do not hold the view that all Germans were evil and probably most of them were and are very good people. However the German people should have taken a greater stance against the rise of fascism instead of letting it get out of hand. Yes, they may not all have been fascists but they knew what fascism meant and did nothing to prevent discrimination against minority groups of Jews. Don’t tell me that it was out of fear that nothing was done.

        Shirley Anne

    • 7

      Julia Sander said,

      A very great bunch of people, not only in the TG community stand up and raise their voice against this practice in Berlin. This definitely could have happend anywhere on this planet, and saying that it could just be Germany because of its past is nothing more than a prejudice! There are cases of young transsexuals in Germany that went wonderful, check for Kim Peters (http://www.stern.de/tv/sterntv/wie-aus-tim-kim-wurde-ich-wollte-immer-ein-maedchen-sein-1703743.html)and there were others. Happened in Germany, which, according to you, is unlikely to happen. Maybe reading “The wave” by Morton Rhue could be useful to you and might expand your horizon.

  4. 8

    This is an appalling injustice…

    But I would like to note that the barbaric “treatment” proposed for Alex by the authorities in this case has absolutely nothing in common with John Money’s handling of David Reimer’s case, which was a tragedy. It might be considered to be malpractice due to Money’s failure to properly follow Reimer’s development, which would have established that the well-intentioned plan to raise this unfortunate victim of a botched circumcision as a woman had failed… but it was not an injustice of this nature.

    It is a certainty that Money would have been wholly supportive of Alex and her mother’s desire to grow to have her grow up as a woman, and would not have supported “reparative therapy” for Alex.

    thanks,
    – bonzie anne

  5. 9

    Great Britain has a policy towards children that is almost as medieval as the one mentioned in Germany. The Portman Clinic which controls all access to aid for young transsexuals in Britain believes transsexualism is a mental health question and believes no child can truly understand they are transsexual until they are adult. The only thing they have not gotten around to in Britain is forced hospitalizing but then denying access to anything and recommending they try the US if they want early care is not much better.

    Look at the case of Britain’s Jackie Green for an example of a child being forced to go to Spack in Boston. This is an issue between parents. In many cases including Kim Petras Germany is far more progressive and helpful in treating children. I defy you to find any child under 18 helped by Portman.

    • 10

      janefae said,

      That – the parnental dispute angle – was my initial concern. But all the same, there is state involvement, which maybe ought not to be so heavy-handed.

      jane xx

  6. 11

    Needless to say, this is anti-scientific and contrary to best practice models in standards of care that are recognised across Europe. It seems to me essential that the institutions overseeing this young person’s care are challenged over this and required to substantiate their claim that this is in her best interests before they can proceed.

  7. 12

    Caroline said,

    If there is space in a mental institution should it not be given to the father!

    It does not take a genius to see that a clear set of rules needs to be in place so that we never hear of these backward steps.

    This is barbaric behaviour by the Forth Reich but as has been said not too dissimilar to the normal barbaric way we are still treating our children in the UK

  8. 13

    kate said,

    The proposed treatment – “Alex should be encouraged to identify with male role models and to follow male pursuits: female preferences would be discouraged….” – is a behaviour modification programme which Richard Green, the former head of Charing Cross GIC , was a central figure in developing and promoting.

    Green was still advocating “extinction” and “positive role modelling” in 1987 but he was also the senior figure in George Reker’s fatal abuse of Kirk Murphy.

    Green was not mentioned in the reports on CNN reports on Kirk Murphy but Kirk’s mother seems to have thought he was directly responsible according to the on line investigation:

    “The psychologist remained unnamed throughout the entire report, but in the Murphy family’s understanding of Kirk’s therapy, that unnamed psychologist, the very prominent and well-respected Dr. Richard Green, was a central figure in their experience. In fact, Kaytee, Kirk’s mother, didn’t even know who George Rekers was when I first mentioned him during our first interview. It was Green she saw on that television program, listing the characteristics that parents should be worried about and recruiting young boys for the federally-funded program. Kaytee thought Kirk’s care was under Green’s direction, and that Rekers was just a “college aide.” …….Was Rekers really given that much freedom over Kirk’s treatment?”

    http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/tag/richard-green

    One of the survivors of Green’s “Clockwork Orange for Sissies” at UCLA has written a play in which he asks the question:

    “Is it ethical to try to change someone’s God-given nature?” asks Bierman, who is gay. “Is it ethical to speak of sexual matters to a young child for the purpose of proving a theory? How do you become liberated after being told who you are is wrong?”

    http://www.jweekly.com/article/full/22941/boy-in-a-blue-dress/

  9. 14

    zoebrain said,

    From the Portman Papers: – Lectures on Violence Perversion and Delinquency

    ““The Portman Clinic has been applying a psychoanalytic framework to the understanding and treatment of violent, perverse, criminal and delinquent patients since its foundations in the early 1930s. All Portman Clinic patients have crossed the boundary from fantasy and impulse to action – action that defies legal and moral boundaries but that also breaches the body boundary of the victims. Ultimately, the violence underlying most of such violent, perverse and delinquent action also attacks and disturbs the mind of both the victim, be that an individual or society and that of the perpetrator. In this volume, contemporary staff describe their thinking and clinical work. Theoretical underpinnings for the understanding of perversion and violence, questions of risk and ethics and the institutional difficulties which emerge during the care of these patients are presented alongside chapters on clinical work with adults and adolescents, including chapters on pedophilia, the compulsive use of internet pornography and transsexuality. ”

    Transsexuals – Violent, Perverse and Delinquent. So says the Portman Clinic, making no exceptions. And these are the people who are supposed to be treating Trans children in the UK.

    • 15

      kate said,

      Hi Zoe,

      Doctor Az Hakeem is, as you know, the author of the chapter in “Lectures on violence, perversion and deliquency” on transsexualism.

      The latest issue of “Advances in Psychiatric Treatment” (January 2012) has a paper by him on his “the/rapy”:

      I found the following account by a blogger who was subjected to Hakeem’s “treatment” in 2010 and which makes “violence, perversion and delinquency” sound like pure projection..and he sounds extremely dangerous.

      The following was written in the context of the protests about Az Quack speaking at Royal College of Shrinkage last year and after she had enlightened about his reputation:

      “If so, and if Dr Hakeem really isn’t a believer in transsexuality, then I can see suddenly why opening up about it meant that things went wrong from there on, and why I felt really uncomfortable and threatened from that point on. Suddenly the controlled hostile probing became very uncontrolled and very hostile. I wanted it to stop and it wouldn’t, and I got told that the pain I felt was the therapy working. I knew better, having gone through similar treatment at the hands of people who were my friends when I first started questioning about my issues. So I refused to give in to this behaviour and I left. ….”

      “I have to admit, never in my deepest paranoid fantasies did I really believe that Dr Hakeem was out to get me, and I left just generally feeling extremely confused. Now it seems like that was the most likely explanation. It’s so strange. I’ve often been paranoid in my issues, but this time it was actually fully deserved…..”

      (I think she means “justified” rather than deserved)

      Gavi has commented on Janes previous post about this that he has heard many similar accounts in confidence ….

  10. 16

    Reading this story reminded me of Scholinski’s book “The Last Time I Wore a Dress.” I was appalled at the ‘corrective’ tactics she describes, which took place in the 1980s, and am appalled even more so that this is still happening in the 2010s. We have had some progress over the last 30 years, but not enough. Clearly, not enough.

    What I was encouraged to read, however, is that Alex sounds like she is accepted by her schoolmates. This is very different experience than a lot of genderqueer individuals — myself included — had at school, as I was bullied every day by the boys and the girls for not fitting in. I am glad that Alex doesn’t have to put up with that.

  11. 17

    […] institution because her father disapproves of her identity. Here’s Pink News. And well done Jane for breaking the […]

  12. 18

    […] Writes blogger Jane Fae: “This proposal by the Berlin Youth Welfare Office will be regarded widely as little more than child abuse and a fundamental breach of Alex’s Human Rights.” […]

  13. 19

    […] Writes blogger Jane Fae: “This proposal by the Berlin Youth Welfare Office will be regarded widely as little more than child abuse and a fundamental breach of Alex’s Human Rights.” […]

  14. 20

    pistachio said,

    Please check your facts!

    Die Tageszeitung (taz.de) is a daily newspaper.
    And the case is NOT referred to Germany’s supreme court but to a superior court of Berlin.

  15. 22

    […] Writes blogger Jane Fae: “This proposal by the Berlin Youth Welfare Office will be regarded widely as little more than child abuse and a fundamental breach of Alex’s Human Rights.” […]

  16. 23

    This is inhumane and depicts her as having a pathological problem. Too bad that this is the treatment modality prescribed instead of acknowledging who she is.


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