German Courts Rule 11-Year-Old Trans Girl Can Be Institutionalized Against Mother’s Wishes

Berlin’s state court, the Kammergericht, has ruled that an 11-year-old transgender girl can be legally institutionalized in a mental-health facility against her and her mother’s wishes, reports.

Initially, the mother of Alexis Kaminsky (above) had sought to get her daughter therapy to cope with the dissolution of her parents’ marriage and the stress of her gender-identity disorder. (Alexis’ father does not support her desire to live as a female.) But after only an hour-long interview, a nurse with the Youth Welfare Office decided that the best course of action was for Alexis to be remanded to an institution and eventually entered into the foster care system.

After a request by Alexis’ mother to get an impartial professional diagnosis was rebuffed, she filed suit—and lost. Last Thursday, the court upheld the earlier ruling that gave Alexis’ father the right to determine her fate.

Trans advocates protested the ruling on Monday with a banner reading:

“Stop Alex forced into institutionalization at once! Institutions like the youth office and the Charité use force on humans through enforcement and psychological pressure! Each gender and each gender identity is a right, not a disease.”

British trans activist Katrina Swales has begun a petition on behalf of Alexis, which states, “This young girl gets taught that her feelings are wrong. She gets pushed into self-denial more and more. Something that has already cost the lives of so many transsexuals.” More than 9,000 signatures have been collected to date.

While it can be debated whether a child of 11 is old enough to make decisions regarding her mental state and gender identity, the youth office maintains Alexis’ mother is pressuring her to adopt a female persona and that, in the best interest of the child, Alexis be removed from any “sphere of influence.”

Previously, the German government has suggested it was more enlightened than other European nations: Last year, the Federal Constitutional Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to require citizens to undergo sterilization and gender-conforming surgeries in order to be legally recognized as the sex they identify as.


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  • Eric

    There is actually a little more to this story than most LGBT blogs are presenting, including some accusations of abuse by the father which might require the removal of the child from the home, and the child’s wish to start hormone treatments at age 11.

  • Rob

    I lived in Berlin for 3 years and found the city to be one of the most progressive places there is and find it hard to believe that we are better placed than the care providers there who have spent time with everyone involved.

    The LGBTQ community in Berlin is also extremely vocal, and so it is perhaps strange the author of this article feels the need to report that a British woman is protesting against this?

    People should not jump to conclusions here – this is about the well-being of an 11-year-old after all.

  • Mariah

    I find it extremely hard to believe the German government would make this decision if there wasn’t more to this story than what is told here. If the non-supportive father is being abusive and the mother expressed concern by sending her to a therapist in the first place, maybe we can assume that being put in a safer environment is not an anti-LGBTQ action, rather a move to help her. Germany is indeed very progressive, allowing civil unions and in general very accepting of LGBTQ people. I highly doubt a discriminatory law would be passed without huge uproar from the majority of the German community, not just the LGBTQ section.

  • HannesF

    Hi there, there is indeed a lot more to the story.
    The case filed by the child’s mother did not deal with the authorities’ proposal to submit the child to a therapy at Charité hospital. Instead, the child’s mother sued in order to get the right to decide what kind of medical treatment her daughter needs back from the state. Earlier, father and mother had agreed to surrender that right to the state because they were not able to agree on what kind of medical assistance the child needs.
    The court rejected the mother’s request and decided that the authorities will remain in charge of all medical decisions related to the child’s health. The court did not, however, grant the authorities the right to decide upon the place the child will be living at. That right remains with the child’s mother. Thus, the child will not be submitted to therapy at Charité as long as the mother rejects that plan.
    The authorities do plan to sue in order to obtain the right to decide where the child should live; however, the German constitutional court has set up a very strict legal framework for such a transfer of legal rights against the parents’ will. The main question courts have to consider when facing such a request from the state is whether parents and child are aware of a need for a thorough medical investigation and are willing to submit to such an investigation. Both mother and child have expressed the wish to see specialized doctors in order to come to a conclusive diagnosis on the child’s condition – and thus there is no legal basis on which a court could possibly order submission into a closed therapy setting.

  • Giselle

    @Eric: The treatment would involve puberty blockers which have no permanent effect but can be extremely beneficial psychologically: preventing puberty changes that severely distress a trans child. This can prevent depression and suicidal thoughts, and generally give the child more time. There is no way a doctor would prescribe hormone treatment (ie permanent changes).
    Alex should also have the chance to see a therapist who specialises in trans issues. The court was reported to have rejected the wish by her mother to have her go to university clinics in Hamburg or Frankfurt.

  • HannesF

    @Giselle: Again, take a look at the original documents / legal comments available in German: The court did not consider any medical or therapy aspects in its decision. The one and only decision made regards the question WHO is in charge of deciding on the form of medical treatment. That may give some implications on what form of treatment is preferred by this court but does by no means imply that these preferences will ever become reality. In order to enforce treatment a new suit would have to be filed. And such a suit does not come the smallest chance of winning due to the comprehensive legal framework installed by the constitutional court in order to protect individuals from forced treatments a few years ago.

  • Giselle

    @HannesF: I did not have the opportunity to see the German documents you refer to. Would you be able to post a link to this here? If this is online I mean.
    I was trying to find more information but have only seen the article on in German. I would really appreciate any further information you can point out. Thank you.

  • shaed


    Newsflash. Puberty blocking drugs don’t work if you wait until you are 16 to take them.
    The kid wants the treatment that doctors who are actually qualified to discuss this agree is best in a situation like hers, but the people being put in charge of her are not qualified.

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