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FIRST-PERSON: A sex change at 12?

ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)–When I first read the headline, I had trouble believing it was true. “Surely this must be a tabloid tale,” I muttered to myself. Perhaps it was just a hoax or even an early April Fool’s joke.

I scanned other news items on the page hoping to find headlines like “Batboy Sighted in NYC Subway” or “Bigfoot Takes Up Pottery.” None were to be found. I realized that I was not eyeballing the cover of the “Weekly World News” at the checkout stand of my local grocery store.

Instead, I was reading FoxNews.com and the report was very real. “12-Year-Old Boy Becomes 14-Year-Old Girl, World’s Youngest Sex Change Patient,” stated the headline.

According to a variety of reports, a 12-year-old boy convinced his parents that he was a girl trapped in a boy’s body — a condition the boy maintains he became aware of when he was two.

The family consulted with psychiatrists throughout Germany. Some doctors not only rejected the idea of sex reassignment surgery for a 12-year-old, they condemned it. Others suggested the boy be admitted to a psychiatric ward for observation. Eventually, the London Daily Telegraph reported, the boy found a group of psychiatrists that agreed the “child should receive therapy, because growing up like a man would have damaged her [sic] personality.”

“Kim (the boy’s new name) is a mentally well-developed child who appears happy and balanced,” Dr. Bern Meyenburg wrote in his diagnosis. Meyenburg, head of a clinic for children and adolescents at Frankfurt University, continued, “There is no doubt of the determined wish, which was already detectable since early childhood. It would have been very wrong to let Kim grow up to be a man.”

The boy, now 14, began undergoing hormone therapy when he was 12. The bright spot in this story, if there is one, is that it will be four years before he can undergo the surgical procedure that will alter his genitalia. German law will not allow sex reassignment surgery to be performed on anyone under the age of 18. To date, the boy’s treatment has cost $40,000. The entire tab is being picked up by German taxpayers.

There’s so much disturbing in this story, I hardly know where to begin.

First, I have tremendous difficulty with the assertion that the boy knew he was female at age two. If true, I don’t think I have ever heard of a more self-aware toddler. At two, I was still carrying a security blanket and struggling with training pants.

In the same vein, many homosexuals say they knew they were attracted to the same sex when they were five or six or some other young age. That makes me roll my eyes. When I was seven, all girls had cooties. I walked hand in hand or arm in arm with my best friend, a boy name Don. According to the experience of many homosexuals, I must have been “gay” when I was seven because I liked boys, not girls.

The next problem with this story is that while everyone readily recognizes that 12 to 14 year olds are children, they are willing to let a child make an incredible life-altering decision. Even the psychiatrists, who refer to the boy as a child, are willing to allow him to begin the process toward sex reassignment surgery.

I love my four children, who range in age from 10 to 16, but most of the time they don’t have the good sense to come in out of the rain. Children also are notoriously fickle. My 12 year old can change her mind about something four times in one hour. There is no way a child should be allowed to undergo hormone therapy for the purpose of having life-altering elective surgery.

Another troubling aspect of this story is that it seems the boy and his parents scoured Germany shopping for doctors who would validate their son’s belief and desire. Why did they go to such great lengths? In order for the therapy and surgery to be covered by the German health care system, which is very socialistic, a patient must be diagnosed by two independent psychiatrists.

People that believe they were born the wrong sex need help. They need counseling. However, they don’t need a surgeon, especially one provided at taxpayers’ expense. If you want to mutilate your body, go right ahead. However, you should have to pay for the procedure out of your own pocket. Frankly, I think sex reassignment surgery for otherwise healthy individuals should be banned.

Some will say that the therapy should be allowed because, after all, at least two psychiatrists agreed. It should be noted there were just as many doctors against it. If you look long enough and hard enough, you can find a few psychiatrists who will go along with just about anything.

Someone once observed that fact is stranger than fiction. I have to agree. The tabloids are going to have to work long and hard to come up a story more startling than this one.
Kelly Boggs, whose column appears Fridays in Baptist Press, is editor of the Louisiana Baptist Message, online at www.baptistmessage.com.

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  • Kelly Boggs