According to the International LGBTQ Youth and Student Organization (IGLYO), an 11-year-old transgender girl in Germany is under threat of being institutionalized on the basis of her gender identity. The details of this story are very unclear, but it has been reported that the girl lives happily with her mother, who supports her gender identity and expression. However, the child’s father, who is divorced from her mother, refuses to accept his daughter and believes she should be raised ‘as a boy.’ With the support of the Youth Welfare Office of Berlin, the father is calling for his child to be committed to a mental institution in an attempt to force her to compromise her gender identity. The young transgender girl has reportedly not received any evaluation from independent experts on gender non-conforming behavior.
While it must be emphasized that the specifics of this story are uncertain (media coverage in English has been sparse), it is nonetheless incredibly concerning to the LGBT community. In its most recent guidelines, known as the Standards of Care, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) asserts that, “Treatment aimed at trying to change a person’s gender identity and expression to become more congruent with sex assigned at birth has been attempted in the past without success, particularly in the long term. Such treatment is no longer considered ethical.” The Standards further emphasize that any psychological treatment for transgender and gender non-conforming children should focus on alleviating the child’s distress related to their gender expression. Thus, a parent’s attempt to force their otherwise happy child into a ‘reparative’ therapeutic situation is likely to cause incredible trauma for the child. Ignoring these guidelines is reckless and potentially dangerous.
“The board of IGLYO strongly advocates the rights of transgender youth and are concerned with the institutionalization of this happy and healthy child,” said the organization in a recent statement. “We find it extremely irresponsible and unacceptable to remove any child from a loving and supportive home without thorough research and consultation with experts.” A petition has been started on Change.org to show support for the transgender child and raise awareness of this disturbing case. GLAAD urges everyone to sign the petition and encourages the media, especially international media, to look into this further and help bring this girl’s story to light.