On no cause on the face of the planet are nations so united as the wickedness of female genital mutilation. Young girls on the cusp of puberty in the Middle East and Africa submit to the partial or total removal of their external genitalia. It 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 hygenic. 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 OK. Not really a big deal.
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, or otherwise she will look grotesque, “with a beard, hairy chest and an E-cup bust”.
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 a result of gender dysphoria. She 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 was 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 “lived continuously for at least 12 months” as the opposite gender.
The guidelines are obviously right. Even at 18, many people are still not mature enough to make a decision which will change their lives irrevocably. In Australia under-18s cannot vote, cannot marry, cannot get a tattoo, and cannot buy cigarettes.
But they can obliterate their femininity.
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. But something is terribly wrong if the solution for depression is a scalpel. If a 15-year-old girl from a Somali background requested a clitoridectomy because she was experiencing severe cultural dysphoria, she would be referred to a shrink, not asked to fill out a consent form. A double mastectomy for a 15-year-old Australian girl 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 will work through the pain barrier and emerge relatively well-adjusted.
Furthermore, long years of taking possibly carcinogenic hormones lie ahead of her. A Swedish study from 2011 found that the suicide rate amongst transgenders was 20 (that’s right, 20) times higher for people who had sex reassignment surgery. That is just the figure which stands out among higher levels of cancer deaths, accidental deaths, violent crime, heart disease and substance abuse.
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. We silenced the alarm bells and raced ahead because of lobby groups and complacency. Remember asbestosis? According to UNESCO, a Dutch study estimated 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 would have saved the Netherlands 34,000 victims and 19 billion Euros in clean-up and compensation.
How much compensation will the mutilated victims of the transgender revolution demand for their stunted lives 30 years from now?
Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet.