The article linked below is about a 17 year old who has been getting hormones and other medical treatment related to gender reassignment. The process has gotten to the point where the amputation of his penis is being planned. All of this has been done without the permission or knowledge of the boy’s parents because he lives on his own. The mother, upon finding out about the upcoming surgery is suing to stop him from getting it done.
One of the reasons that this issue creates such strong feelings in people, I think, has to do with the fact that most of us hear of a person wanting their penis amputated and intuitively know that it’s not right, that something has to wrong with that person. Of course that person would agree with us. They would say that’s exactly why they want to do it, something is wrong and that something is gender.
There has been an amazing amount of attention to this issue given the very tiny percentage of people affected. Generous estimates have it as three tenths of a percent. WHO recognizes this as a mental illness as does the The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). How many of them have been officially diagnosed with Gender dysphoria (the DSM’s new name for gender identity disorders) is entirely unknown. Though supporters are quick to say that stories of regret and detransitioning are rare this fails to take into account that this is likely due to the stigma within the trans community regret is likely not shared opening. Alternatively these are likely the same people who say the low percentage of homosexuals and transgender people is due to their fear of self reporting.
There are those who say that they were born this way. While I don’t think that’s true (I tend to hold the view that it is a mental illness as outlined in the DSM) even if it were true that simply means the individuals have a genetic birth defect.
The issue really isn’t about what bathroom people use but what treatment people with mental illness receive. Is amputation of healthy and functional tissue and organs really the right course of action? The fact remains that surgery doesn’t actually make a man a woman. Human beings are anchored in reality. This is one reason that computer generated human characters in movies often fall short. Film makers call it the “uncanny valley”. We’re very good as a species in picking up on the uncanny. I don’t mean this from the perspective of how people perceive a trans-gendered person but rather how the trans-gendered person views themselves. More than likely they will go through all the surgery, the pain, the healing, and the expense only to see their new self as uncanny and the dysphoria will return; only now their penis is in a bio hazardous waste container.
It’s not against the law and I’m not suggesting it should be except for those who are not at the age of consent. But I do suggest there are ethical issues with a surgeon who would do the operation. I also maintain firmly that regardless of anyone’s right to mutilate themselves I hold tightly to my right not to accept what they have done or to be forced to think or refer to them based on a pronoun that isn’t in keeping with objective reality.
The child’s mother is challenging a Minnesota law that allows a minor who is living alone to make his own health-care decisions, like amputating genitals.