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, 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 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.
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.
This is echoed by 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.