Transgender Germans demand compensation for sterilization

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12/31/2019

When German authorities insisted Tsepo Bollwinkel get sterilized in order to be legally considered a man 25 years ago, he was “eager to follow the rules, even if they sounded insane”. Now Bollwinkel, a 58-year-old empowerment coach, wants compensation for himself and potentially thousands of other trans people who underwent mandatory sterilization to change their sex on identity documents before legal reform in 2011. Back in 1994, “I felt grateful for that opportunity because it was important for me to get legal recognition,” said Bollwinkel, who is also campaigning for a government apology, backed by Bundesverband Trans* (BvT), a trans advocacy group. Today Bollwinkel’s goal is to make Germans aware of the country’s dark history of sterilisation – dating back to the Nazi era – and to acknowledge the rights of trans people, despite conservative attitudes among many voters and lawmakers.

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