German woman wins case over sex change operation

BERLIN (Reuters) - A German woman who was mistakenly raised as a boy won a lawsuit against the surgeon who turned her into a man as a teenager, a court said on Thursday.

The 48-year-old plaintiff, who suffered from a condition called congenital adrenal hyperplasia, sued the surgeon for removing the uterus and ovaries that were first found inside her body during an appendix operation in 1976.

Because her enlarged clitoris was mistaken for a penis, the woman, who developed facial hair during puberty, was thought to be a boy, said the court in the western city of Cologne.

On being told that she was “60 percent female” after the appendix operation, the teenager became suicidal, prompting her family to seek medical advice, the court added.

Doctors found no concrete evidence of male genitalia inside the patient’s body, and an analysis of her chromosomes revealed her to be female, though she was not informed of this.

The surgeon decided to remove the woman’s internal female organs, and she later underwent further operations and hormone treatment to complete her transformation into a man.

The woman, who later became a nurse, learnt only in 2006 which organs had been removed and that the gender of her chromosomes had deliberately been kept secret, the court noted.

In its verdict, the court found the surgeon had not given his patient enough information about the “nature, substance and scope” of the operation carried out in August 1977.

The plaintiff, who has abandoned her male name, was seeking damages of at least 100,000 euros from the surgeon. The court has yet to decide what damages to award.

Reporting by Dave Graham and Sylvia Westall, editing by Tim Pearce