A German child, who has been living as a girl since she started school nearly seven years ago, could be forcibly institutionalised in order to “cure” her transsexualism by encouraging her to take up boyish pursuits.
This, according to German publication taz.de, follows a ruling by the Berlin Kammergericht (Chanber Court) that Alex Kaminski (name changed) may be separated from her mother, with whom she now lives, and forcibly moved to a psychiatric ward in the Charité University hospital.
Nurse knows best?
The court has thereby agreed with the view of a nurse in the Berlin Youth Office that despite living as a girl for many years, Alex’ transsexuality has been induced by her mother.
Following treatment, where behaviours more “appropriate” to her biological sex would be encouraged, Alex would be transferred to the care of a foster family.
The situation arises because Alex’ mother and father have been separated for some time, and key decisions on her welfare have fallen to the Berlin Youth Office. Despite the fact that Alex has lived as a girl since beginning primary school, Alex’ father has recently made representations to the Youth Office arguing that her identification as female is entirely induced by her mother.
This view was supported by a nurse in the Youth Office – and, when Alex objected to having her gender questioned and, unwisely, may have expressed the view that she would rather die than grow up as a boy, led to an initial court ruling that she could be institutionalised.
In the course of this latest hearing, Alex and her mother requested that a formal psychiatric assessment be carried out. Separately, Hamburg sex researcher Hertha Richter-Appelt rejected the idea that Alex’ behaviour could be “cured” through therapy as an “antiquated point of view”. Nonetheless, there was no need for Alex to be institutionalised, since whether her transsexuality had been induced could be determined on an outpatient basis alone.
No hospital backing
The Charité has firmly rejected any suggestion that Klaus Beier, director of their institute for sexology and sexual medicine was advocating this approach: and they have gone so far as to warn that unless serious inaccuracies in German news reports are amended, they will take legal action.
In an official statement put out this evening, they stated:
“Prof. Beier has never commented on or proposed a therapy for “Alex”, neither advocating that Alex be encouraged towards more masculine behaviour, nor diagnosing Alex’ condition as induced by her mother.
“He has never met Alex, nor commented on the case: in the event that Alex was committed to the Charité she would not be seen by Prof. Beier but by the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy (DCAPPMP).”
They further add: “The DCAPPMP would not admit the child against the child´s or the mother’s expressed will – and the Charité would not accept a compulsory treatment. Moreover, it would not be possible to conduct a psychiatric assessment of the child without the child´s and the mother´s cooperation.”
This commentary raises the interesting question of whether, if other institutions take a similar line, it is even possible for the court’s ruling to be put into practice.
The court’s decision was soundly criticized by Alex’s lawyer, who called the decision “appalling”, adding that nowhere in literature is there support for the view “that transsexualism could be ‘induced’.
They went on: “This is an invention of the nurse, who would have talked only once for an hour with the child, whose own views on the matter they have ignored.
Attorney and family now plan an appeal to the pre-Federal Constitutional Court.
Alarm over this case has been growing both locally and internationally. On Monday, a demonstration of around 250 members of “Action Alliance Alex” took place in front of the Berlin Senate Department for Youth, with the motto: “Stop the forced institutionalisation of Alex – now!”.
A spokesperson for this group said: “This story is not unique. Institutions such as the Youth Office and the Charité have been using coercion and psychological pressure to enforce their views on individuals! Race and gender identity is a right, not a disease. ”
According to one local lgbt activist, during this demonstration, a delegation was received by the State Secretary responsible for the Youth Department. She acknowledged for the first time the seriousness of the case, and while the State Department cannot direct the Berlin Youth Office in matters of this sort, it has agreed to put itself forward as mediator. A roundtable involving all parties is now expected to follow.
A petition is also under way at online site change.org.
Addressed to the Mayor of Berlin Klaus Wowereit, it says: “This young girl will be taught how her feelings are wrong, and pushed more into the denial that has claimed the lives of so many transgendered people, thanks to biased decisions by the Youth Welfare office this child’s life could be irrevocably ruined.” So far, nearly 12,000 people have signed.
The action committee concerned with this issue brings together around 15 different organisations and meets on alternate Sundays: its next meeting is scheduled for 1 April at the offices of TransInterQueer in Berlin.
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