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13 December 2007

Tough call on sex-change case

A German judge, who must decide on a damages claim by a German person who was surgically converted to a man, said it would be a tough call to make.

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A German judge, who must decide on a damages claim by a German person who was surgically converted to a man, said it would be a tough call to make.

The court was told the claimant, who looks male, was inter-sexual or "hermaphrodite," a person born with a mixture of male and female physical features who is neither strictly a he nor a she.

Asked to choose whether to be called "him" or "her" in court, the claimant said she felt "mainly female". The judge said the evidence was that her chromosomes were definitely female.

The claimant, 48, who was raised by mistake as a boy, is suing the doctor who cut out her ovaries and womb when she was 18. The retired doctor did not appear in court in Cologne, but was represented by a lawyer.

Lost records complicate matter
Presiding judge Dietmar Reiprich said it would be "particularly difficult" to accept her claim because many of the records from 30 years ago had vanished. A verdict would be handed down on February 6.

Both sides rejected an agreed settlement.

The rare medical condition is distinguished from trans-sexualism, where a person's physical sex is clear but they behave as the opposite sex and sometimes request cosmetic and other sex-change surgery.

The plaintiff, a hospital orderly, says her early life was a ghastly mistake after doctors mistook an ambiguous body part as a male sexual organ when she was a baby.

'What a weirdo I am'
She told a reporter outside the courtroom that her medical treatment through the years had been a "continuous disaster".

"I've always thought: what a weirdo I am. I've always been running away from myself," said Christiane V, who officially has the forename Thomas. She said officials kept treating her as a trans-sexual.

She is demanding 100 000 euros (about R980 000), claiming she was falsely advised before the operation.

Her lawyer, Georg Groth, said many medical professionals had failed her, but only the surgeon could be sued after so long. The surgeon's lawyer told the court her physician was to blame. – (Sapa)

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