Children “Born in the Wrong Body”

A Family Court Judge in Australia has approved sexual reassignment surgery for a 16 year-old schoolboy who suffers from a mild form of autism. Justice Linda Dessau heard evidence of the boy’s desperation to escape his gender prison and start his life over as a girl. The Court listened to testimony of significant distress, anxiety and depression, including at least one suicide attempt.

The boy’s family, six specialists and his independent lawyer all confirmed the boy’s maturity to make this life-changing decision. The Court also heard that the boy’s father enjoyed dressing in female attire while he was a young man, but had abandoned this practice as he matured.

The protocol for sexual reassignment treatment of children is to give them hormonal drugs which arrests their journey into puberty, thus delaying the development of breasts in girls and the growth of hair and a deeper voice in boys.

Experts believe this initial treatment gives a child the opportunity to decide if they wish to move forward with further hormonal treatment and later surgery. In this case the Court also ordered that the boy’s sperm be collected and stored in the event the female hormones impeded his ability to have children.

Sex change surgery is highly controversial, particularly for children, but it is not without precedent. Six years ago an Australian Court’s decision to permit a 12 year-old girl to begin hormonal treatment was met by public anger. At the age of 17 the Court also approved a double mastectomy as the girl moved through her reassignment treatment.

While it is reported that most people who complete the surgery are happy with their new lives, for others the surgery is anything but positive. The director of Australia’s only sex change clinic has been under fire for several years as a result of former patients suing her, the Clinic, and the Clinic’s other doctors, alleging negligence and errors in diagnosis.

After allegations were made in 2009, psychiatrist Dr. Trudy Kennedy of the Monash Gender Dysphoria Clinic in Melbourne, was forced to close the clinic for a time. It is reported that eight former patients have complaints against Dr. Kennedy and three lawsuits have been commenced.

One former patient who had surgery when he was 21, maintains that he was misdiagnosed as a transexual by Dr. Kennedy. He underwent surgery to reverse the original procedure and says he now lives as a “mutilated freak”. He received a damage award.

Another 66 year-old man settled out-of-court. He had been sexually abused by his mother for seven years and received the sex change surgery in Dr. Kennedy’s Clinic, despite an opinion from a psychiatrist that the surgery would not help him.

Dr. Kennedy believes that the desire to change gender is biologically based and thus, surgery is the only cure. Other experts say that child abuse and psychiatric ailments may cause gender confusion, which should be treated with psychotherapy, not surgery.

Transexualism is generally misunderstood and public education is lacking. Vancouver human rights lawyer barbara findlay Q.C. remarks:

“Transgendered people-both transexuals who are born in
the wrong body and other people who identify as neither,
or both, male and/or female, continue to suffer
horrendous discrimination.”

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Note: Dr. Trudy Kennedy died last week in Australia.
Rest in Peace


7 thoughts on “Children “Born in the Wrong Body”

  1. Having walked the path of transition and surgery, I have a few thoughts I’d like to add regarding the appropriateness of GRS for transsexuals:

    (1) For those who need it, it is desperately important.

    (2) Most people who aren’t trans make the mistake of assuming that it’s all about the surgery – that is far from the case, and in fact by far the most important changes go on between the ears, not the legs, during transition. My therapist spent a great deal of time focusing on what he called the “inner transition” – which is really all about living as a complete person in your desired gender role.

    (3) I think it’s important to pay attention to the WPATH Standards of Care. There are safeguards in there designed to minimize the risk of someone getting surgery who should not have it. (It’s not clear to me the Dr. Kennedy was following the SOC appropriately)

    (4) For a good long-range survey of post-surgery outcomes for transsexuals, Pfaefflin et. al. published a review which surveyed follow-up studies for over 30 years. The rate of poor outcomes was tiny indeed.

    (5) I’m going to commit heresy among some transsexuals and argue that the “gatekeepers” (therapists primarily) serve a valuable purpose – not just in terms of protecting non-transsexuals from themselves, but also in ensuring that those who do have surgery are as prepared for it as possible.

    Transition itself is a difficult road to follow – and one that will always be ‘the road less travelled’. There is much heartache along it, but there are even greater joys for those of us who need to follow it.

    1. Thank you for a well-constructed post, most of which I would support. However (4) Pfaefflin should have been here n Victoria (Australia) – perhaps he would not be able to be so definitive. Gate-keepers (5) – I agree with. Gate-keepers with a fixed mind set (surgery is the only solution) should not have the keys. Unfortunately there were TWO of them (Kennedy and Bowers) with exactly the same view so it is not hard to believe that despite the eulogies their blinkered view of transsexualism has damaged the life of many patients. I mean if you presented to them saying you believed you were Napoleon would the correct treatment be to recommend a trip to Elba, start learning French and then get one of your hands sewn onto your chest! Or would you recommend a non-surgical solution?

  2. Additionally, I should have pointed out that Dr. Spack has been dealing with young transsexuals (below the age of majority) since the 1980s, and has an active clinic in Boston (I think).

    While caution is certainly the watchword when dealing with youth (and the WPATH SOC do reflect this), there are some who are so clear in their need to transition that it cannot be ignored either.

  3. Excellent blog! Do you have any helpful hints for aspiring writers?
    I’m planning to start my own blog soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
    Any suggestions?
    Many thanks!

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