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Further Reading

Column: Foreign Intel

Surgical Strikeout

If FGM Is Barbaric, Isn't Sex-Change Surgery Abusive?

by Michael Cook

On no cause on the face of the planet are nations so united in moral conviction as on the wickedness of female genital mutilation (FGM), wherein young girls on the cusp of puberty submit to the partial or total removal of their external genitalia. Though very common in the Middle East and Africa, FGM is universally denounced as barbaric and anti-woman.

The fact that many of the young women undergo the primitive and painful operation voluntarily, or even insist upon it, is dismissed as irrelevant. Mutilating a girl's body is wrong, period. Even if it's hygienic. Even if it's painless. Even if she wants it. It's always wrong.

Except if the girl wants to become a boy. Then it's okay. Not really a big deal.

Article originally appeared in
Salvo 39

Quinn's Case

That's the message coming from Australia, where the Family Court has allowed a 15-year-old girl to have a double mastectomy so that she can live as a boy. Although she has been dressing as a boy since she was four, she refused to have hormone therapy to suppress female puberty. Now, said the court, she needs the surgery; otherwise, once she starts taking male hormone treatments, she will look grotesque, "with a beard, hairy chest and an E-cup bust."1

From the sketchy accounts of the case in the media, it appears that the girl, known only as Quinn, has a "history of anxiety, depression and self-harm," allegedly as the result of gender dysphoria.2 She now insists on having her large breasts removed.

An unnamed psychiatrist told the court that he was "reluctant" to encourage her to take this irreversible step, but a more amenable psychologist testified that her mental health would improve if gender dysphoria were no longer an issue.

The court's decision goes against international guidelines, which recommend that transgender surgery should not be carried out until children have reached the age of 18 and have "lived continuously for at least 12 months" like a person of the opposite gender.3

The guidelines are obviously right. Even at 18, many people are still not mature enough to make a decision that will change their lives irrevocably. In Australia, persons under age 18 cannot vote, cannot marry, cannot get a tattoo, and cannot buy cigarettes.

But they can obliterate their femininity.

The Wrong Solution

Why is it regarded as progressive to allow children to be mutilated in the name of transgender activism?

Obviously, Quinn has serious psychiatric issues. Exactly what they are is up to the mental health professionals to determine. But something is terribly wrong if the solution for depression is a scalpel.

If a 15-year-old Australian girl from a Somali background requested a clitoridectomy because she was experiencing severe cultural dysphoria, she would be referred to a psychiatrist, not be asked to fill out a consent form. A double mastectomy for a 15-year-old girl with gender dysphoria is no less mutilating.

According to the psychiatrist's bible, the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 98 percent of gender-confused boys and 88 percent of gender-confused girls eventually accept their biological sex after passing through puberty. There is every chance that Quinn could work through her current pain barrier and emerge from it as a relatively well-adjusted young woman.

Furthermore, if she proceeds with her "transition" as planned, long years of taking possibly carcinogenic hormones lie ahead of her, without any guarantee that her psychological problems will abate. A Swedish study from 2011 found that the suicide rate among transgenders was twenty—that's right, twenty—times higher for people who had sex reassignment surgery than for people in the general population.4 That is just the figure that stands out among the higher levels of cancer deaths, accidental deaths, violent crime, heart disease, and substance abuse that also plague transgenders.

Caution Required

The consequences of allowing children and teenagers to transition to the opposite sex with hormone therapy and even surgery are uncertain. There have simply been too few robust studies. Instead of rushing ahead to satisfy Quinn's demands, we should be applying the precautionary principle.

As a society, we've been here before. There have been other situations when we have silenced the alarm bells and raced ahead with some policy or actions because of lobby groups and complacency. Remember asbestosis? According to UNESCO, a Dutch study estimates that if asbestos had been banned in 1965, when the link with the lethal cancer ­mesothelioma was plausible but unproven, instead of in 1993, it would have saved the Netherlands 34,000 victims and 19 billion Euros in clean-up and compensation.

Thirty years from now, how much compensation will the mutilated victims of the transgender revolution demand for their stunted lives? •

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