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Transsexual child could be sent to mental ward

Ben Knight · 10 Feb 2012, 11:00

Published: 10 Feb 2012 11:00 GMT+01:00

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The child, identified as “Alex,” has male genitalia but considers herself a girl. She lives with her mother, who supports her wishes. But her father strongly disputes this gender identity and has lobbied the Berlin youth welfare office to have the child taken from its mother’s care and put into a psychiatric institution. The two parents separated and divorced over the issue.

Daily newspaper Die Tageszeitung reported last month that a local district court upheld the youth office’s request, but that the mother is appealing to the higher regional court. A spokesman for the higher court told The Local that because of the private nature of the case, this could not be discussed.

“For legal reasons, I cannot confirm or deny that such a case exists here,” the spokesman said in an email.

Alex’s body will soon develop more masculine traits in puberty, but she told Die Tageszeitung that she has always felt she was a girl and wants to undergo oestrogen treatment. She officially changed her sex and her name, from Alexander to Alexandra, before entering primary school, where she was accepted as a girl.

The father reportedly wrote 170 pages of letters to the youth welfare office, describing his former wife as a psychologically disturbed woman who is pressuring their child to become a girl. Alex’s mother, meanwhile, says that her former husband’s judgement is affected by the fact that his family has a history of transsexualism.

The psychiatric experts are divided on how to deal with transgender children. Klaus Beier, professor of psychotherapy and sexual medicine at Berlin’s Charité hospital, believes it is irresponsible to give a child medication to prevent puberty developing naturally.

“If we had criteria that could clearly tell us that a problem in gender identity in childhood is transferred into a transgender state later, then administering puberty-blocking medication would be possible,” he told the paper. “We don’t have these criteria, so that we always have to work from the basic assumption that the child could lose its uncertainty over its biological gender in its further development.”

But Udo Rauchfleisch, psychotherapist and former professor at the University of Basel, Switzerland, is more open to hormone treatment. “If you are convinced that the child is transsexual, I think you can start hormone therapy,” he told The Local this week. “The integration into a female role is of course much easier if it happens early.”

But he underlined that the diagnosis needed to be much more thorough than has been carried out with Alex. “In this case I would see the child regularly – at least once a week - for at least six months,” he said. “And in parallel to that I would want to speak to each parent regularly. One possibility would be to do that in a home, so that you could observe the child all the time.”

Story continues below…

“I don’t really know what strategy the youth office is pursuing in this case,” he added. “I would recommend that they have a specialist see the child regularly, and make sure that the parents talk to her. I don’t think the office need do anything beyond that. Taking the child away from the mother seems absurd to me.”

Organizations including the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Youth and Student Organization (IGLYO) have taken up Alex’s cause. “The Board of IGLYO declares our solidarity with the girl and her mother,” IGLYO said in a statement. “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.”

An online petition, addressed to Berlin’s Mayor Klaus Wowereit, has also been set up in support of Alex’s wishes to grow up as a girl.

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Ben Knight (ben.knight@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

12:56 February 10, 2012 by iseedaftpeople
So this boy feels he's in the wrong body... well, on the face of it, 11 years old may seem awfully young to initiate any kind of transition treatment, psychiatrically or by administering hormones... on the other hand, when you listen to transsexuals, any transsexual, they will tell you that they felt like they were in the wrong body for as long as they could remember.

Just take the case of Kim Petras. She says she knew from age two that something wasn't right, she began hormone treatment at the age of 12, and today, having had full gender reassignment surgery at 16, she has no regrets whatsoever.

Due to the enormity of the consequences, I agree that thorough psychiatric evaluation of a child like this is imperative before any kind of hormone treatment can even be considered. This is not to be taken lightly, because there is a possibility of misdiagnosis. But in the end, once transsexuality and gender identity disorder are diagnosed beyond reasonable doubt, there is increasing evidence from a growing number of cases in recent years that the benefits of early transitioning, even when a patient is just barely in his or her early teens, outweigh the risks.
13:08 February 10, 2012 by jg.
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
13:42 February 10, 2012 by jessica21

Your post either represents a kind of deliberate disingenuousness or profound ignorance. A rabbit is not a sentient being, is not aware of its own existence and is unable to express what it is. As such there can be no comparison between the two, This girl is not saying she wants to be anything other than the sentient human being she really is inside.
13:52 February 10, 2012 by Zoe Brain
@jg - maybe this will help. Some of the many scientific and medical journal articles available on the net :

// Male­to­female transsexuals have female neuron numbers in a limbic nucleus. Kruiver et al J Clin Endocrinol Metab (2000) 85:2034­2041

// A sex difference in the human brain and its relation to transsexuality. by Zhou et al Nature (1995) 378:68­70. " Our study is the first to show a female brain structure in genetically male transsexuals and supports the hypothesis that gender identity develops as a result of an interaction between the developing brain and sex hormones"

// White matter microstructure in female to male transsexuals before cross-sex hormonal treatment. A diffusion tensor imaging study. - Rametti et al, J Psychiatr Res. 2010 Jun 8. "CONCLUSIONS: Our results show that the white matter microstructure pattern in untreated FtM transsexuals is closer to the pattern of subjects who share their gender identity (males) than those who share their biological sex (females). Our results provide evidence for an inherent difference in the brain structure of FtM transsexuals."

// Hopefully you'll see the difference now between a physical, anatomical issue, and one of psychosis. This child thinks she's a girl because she has an anatomically female brain, hence emotional response, sense of smell, instincts usw. That over-simplifies, but captures the essence. Why all those people (regardless of what they look like) with feminised brains identify as women, we're not sure. But we can observe that they do.
14:01 February 10, 2012 by Gretl
@ Zoe brain - I am glad you found one of the articles.

There is another one I read that discussed research that found that while the fetus produces male hormones, he lacks the receptors, so that the brain stays female. It is not a lack of hormones but a lack of receptors, so it is not cureable by adding more hormones. Since these males are born with female brains, there is no reason not to go ahead with gender reassignment. There should be a way to measure either the brain (the size of the connection between the hemispheres is larger in women) or the amount of male hormone receptors to verify that this is what the child has.
14:02 February 10, 2012 by iseedaftpeople

Your ignorance is astounding.

This isn't like that one South Park episode where that one guy gets surgery to become a dolphin... this is real life, and transsexuality is a very real problem for those affected, and science gives sound reason to assume that it invariably exists from birth.
17:23 February 10, 2012 by zeddriver
I would think that caution is advised. I know that in the US a CHILD is not allowed to quit school until they are a certain age. 16 in most states. To even think of allowing a child of 11 to make this decision having not even gone through puberty is just crazy. His/her hormonal make up will more than likely change at puberty. If not he/she can seek to change when they have reached the age when they can make legal decisions on his/her own behalf.
17:30 February 10, 2012 by raandy
This is an interesting topic. I really do not know how I would feel if one of my children wanted to be the opposite sex.

I think if the desire continues for a period of a few years , then the problem has to be considered in the best interest of the child. Hopefully this person has been interviewed by professionals. By receiving hormone therapy and later an operation, to change sex , is never going to be the same as being born a female.

The nearest comparison coming to mind would be the Lady Boys of Thailand. If you did not know they were male you would never guess.

I find it hard to believe this child really understands the social barriers he will encounter in the future.
18:01 February 10, 2012 by zeddriver
I also meant to add the fallowing.

Just take the case of Kim Petras. She says she knew from age two that something wasn't right, she began hormone treatment at the age of 12, and today, having had full gender reassignment surgery at 16, she has no regrets whatsoever.

I tend to take such statements with a grain of salt. Kim may be speaking the truth. But I have no way to verify that she really knew anything about her sexuality at the age of two. Just as we have no way to really know if the friend of the french fry artist really would have bought a 20 year old chip for $2,500.
20:07 February 10, 2012 by Bryant2012
Bravo for the girl!! She has more intestinal fortitude than most adults. However, I have to agree with zeddriver, the process should be delayed until after puberty. She will only encounter discrimination from the self proclaimed Christians and the likes that still believe that Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed by the God of pain and suffering from the Old Testament. JG-some posts shouldn¦#39;t be entertained.
21:09 February 10, 2012 by zeddriver

What's weird is that I'm a christian. And I choose not to condemn her. I may not agree with an alternative life style. But last time I checked my name was zeddriver not GOD. Condemnation and punishment is gods job not mine. I have have a right to say I disagree. But I don't have a right to poke a stick in the eye of someone I don't agree with.
22:22 February 10, 2012 by Mark S.
Some commenters here obviously do not know enough about the sex reassignment treatment to understand the problem. The technology has come a long way since Christine Jorgensen (google it), but post-puberty male-to-female sex reassignment still usually comes out looking like a man in drag.

Once puberty begins, the male secondary sexual characteristics start forming. You can't surgically convert the shape of the face bones and the muscle structure to look as female as somebody who grew up female. If you start the hormone treatment before puberty, you develop female characteristics during that growth. I see no good reason to say "You can't start now when the reassignment can work better - have to wait until it is too late".
08:48 February 11, 2012 by zeddriver
@Mark S.

So. Just because we have advanced technology means we should start earlier and earlier. There is a societal reason for limiting a child's right to make certain decisions. They (children) do not yet have a full understanding of the consequences of their actions. Would it be fine for this 11 year old child to join the military? how about voting? driving? What if this young boy just knew that since the age of 2-3 he really, really wanted to be a star in sex movies. Would it be fine to allow that? I would think not. According to German law. This child can't legally have sex. Yet some on here would advocate sex change surgery for a prepubescent boy. Just because starting early would make him a more girly girl post surgery.
10:04 February 11, 2012 by bugger
First of all, aside from her sexual development, this kid is a victim of a marital war. The father wants to punish the mother by writing 170 pages to declare the mother mentally unfit. It is the parents who are ill, not the kid of uncertain gender. Which loving father would "put (the child away) into a psychiatric institution"? No, Germany does not lock people away in lunatic asylums for being transgender anymore, and there are no approved psychological 'therapies' to 'correct' gender available.
10:34 February 11, 2012 by Nemesis
It is very obvious from the various articles about this child, that the child is transsexual.

Also the father is reacting against a history of transsexualism in his own family which he finds embarrassing.

This kid is clearly transsexual and if a specialist specialising in childhood transsexualism OK's moving forward with treatment, then that is what should occur.

The last few years there have been so many reactionary idiots pulling us backwards in Europe in so many areas.

It is time we let at least one person get on with there lives without our reactionary interference.
13:41 February 11, 2012 by Bryant2012
@zeddriver..No, I'm not taken away your right to agree or disagree. In fact, I was agreeing with you. Lost your grip on English comprehension? How do you determine what''s an alternative lifestyles? Is it based on your christian values? That's likely. Your response, not your fist post, reeks from contempt of anyone who doesn't have a "normal life" such as yours. Your lifestyle can be deem alternative by a lesbian couple, have those thoughts crossed your mind? Show your God some respect and at least capitalize his name when you inject it in a sentence.
14:15 February 11, 2012 by zeddriver

No you didn't agree with me. I said in two posts that caution and waiting until this child is legally able to make a decision for him/her self is what should be done. You clearly stated that you saw no reason to wait. Because it works better when one is prepubescent.

As for an alternative life style. That's easy. Any life style that is different from my own can be classified as alternative in my eyes. And I don't have contempt against anyone that has a lifestyle different than my own. I never once stated in any post above that I considered this child as someone who should be condemned or put into therapy. What this boy does when he is of legal age is his decision. Is that plain enough for you. And yes. I don't agree with gender reassignment. And it is my right to say so. But again. I do not have a right to deny a person of legal age the right to do such a reassignment.
15:23 February 11, 2012 by Spacial
I'm sorry, but does anyone have any credable confirmation for this rather astonishing story?

I can't claim to be an expert on German child laws, or their mental health legislation, but this seems so out of keeping with Germany.

Removing a child, simply because of gender dysphoria is not how Germany usually behaves.

Using mental hospitals to incarcerate children, for what appear to be social reasons is inhuman and unacceptable in modern European psychiatric practice.

If this were happening in the US I might be ready to believe it. But not here.

So far, the only publications carrying this story are this one and Pink News. Both seem to be producing the same copy.

Some evidence please, or kindly withdraw the story.
16:48 February 11, 2012 by zeddriver

Sorry mate. I messed up with that first paragraph. The first sentence had me thinking that you were Mark S.

I do believe you misunderstood my position.

I was only stating that even though I'm a Chrstian. It's not my job to stand in judgement of others lifestyles. Unlike so many of my Christian brethren that would try and make the gay,TG, lesbian lifestyle illegal.
21:21 February 11, 2012 by Bryant2012
@zeddriver......I agree, you sound like a cool dude:)
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