On Wednesday, October 12th, German MP Julia Klöckner of the CDU took to Twitter to share a screenshot of the so-called ‘rainbow portal’ of the German Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth—abbreviated BMFSFJ—showing content clearly aimed at minors encouraging them to use puberty blockers and hormones in case they are unsure about feeling comfortable as a boy or a girl. Klöckner’s post expressed disbelief:
This is crazy—shouldn’t this be a fake: Federal government recommends puberty blockers to very young, insecure people.
The story was picked up by the German tabloid BILD and caused a commotion among leading politicians of the right-wing AfD. A fact lost in the commotion was that the ‘rainbow portal’ is not new at all: it was launched in 2019 under Family Affairs Minister Franziska Giffey of the SPD—now mayor of Berlin—and as one of several outcomes of the CDU-SPD coalition led by Angela Merkel.
Beatrix von Storch, deputy leader of the AfD, shared additional content from the government portal and referred to the website as “the most disgusting thing [I’ve seen] in a long time.” According to her, “children are being encouraged to chemically castrate themselves. In simple language. Addressed directly. This is a call to grievous bodily harm. The family minister responsible for this content should be put on trial.”
The original text found on the government’s website appeared under the header “Young and Trans-gender” and reads as follows:
Some children or teenagers realize: I’m not a girl at all. Or: I’m not a boy at all. Even if others see me that way. We have tips for you. Am I transgender? How do I know? Take your time. Try it out. Do you feel more comfortable as a girl? Or do you feel more comfortable as a boy? What’s important is that you feel good now. It doesn’t matter how you’ll live in 10 years. As a man? As a woman? You don’t have to decide that right now.
On taking puberty blockers: Are you still very young? And have you not yet reached puberty? Then you can take puberty blockers.
Puberty blockers are a special kind of medicine: The word blocker means to stop something. This medicine makes sure that you do not go through puberty.
This means that your body does not develop any further. Neither in the direction of a woman. Nor in the direction of a man. This gives you more time to think. And you can think about it in peace: Which body suits me?
On taking hormones: You might also say, “No, I’m quite sure. This body really doesn’t align with how I feel.” Then you can get certain hormones. These hormones make you more masculine. Or they make you more feminine. They change your voice, for example. Or you grow more breasts. Or a beard. It depends on which hormones you take.
On surgery: Hormones can’t do everything. Some things can only be done with surgery. Like, for example, changing your genitalia. But you need to be at least 18 years old to get such surgery.
Following the outrage created by the Twitter posts from Klöckner and von Storch, the Family Affairs Ministry changed the wording slightly. It replaced the original phrasing “you can take puberty blockers”with the more cautious “you can ask your doctor if puberty blockers might help you.”
But much of the content remains. The ‘rainbow portal’ continues to promote concepts contained in the new ‘self-determination act’ (The European Conservative reported in July), a proposed law that, if passed, will allow everybody to change their gender legally once a year—no questions asked. In this same spirit, the portal currently asks:
Are you under 18 years old? Then you have to ask your parents first. Or your guardian. They must agree, otherwise it will not work. That’s important: In Germany, you can decide a lot of things for yourself. You can also decide for yourself whether you are a boy. Or whether you are a girl.
Deputy federal spokesman of the AfD Mariana Harder-Kühnel spoke out against the recommendations made on the ‘rainbow portal,’ calling them “highly irresponsible and dangerous for the further physical and mental state until adulthood.” She also warned against the passing of the ‘self-determination act’ which would allow “medical procedures facilitating sex changes on minors against the wishes of parents.”
This is further reflected in one section of the ‘rainbow portal’ which further undermines parental rights and reads:
Sometimes adults think: let’s not talk about it. It’ll pass. That’s the way adults want to protect you. That is, of course, nonsense.
While a lot of the condemnation is currently—and rightly—directed at the Green leadership of the Family Affairs Ministry, it’s worth remembering that the ‘rainbow portal’ itself is nearly four years old, and it acquired its prominent platform when the ministry was run by the SPD.
More importantly, it is Klöckner’s own CDU—under the leadership of Angela Merkel—that was the senior partner of the ruling coalition at that time. As such, it it is no surprise that, following her indignant comments about this website, Klöckner has faced a backlash from many—since it was her own party’s leadership that allowed the creation of such a thing as the ‘rainbow portal.’
There are many questions to be asked about the involvement of establishment parties in the promotion of such content—and about how such outrageous content can exist for so long without an outcry from more people.