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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Whose Rights Matter Here?

I saw two news reports today involving two transwomen. In one case the question is raised about the rights of the individual vs. the rights of society, in this case, the rights of other teenage girls to be afforded a dressing room without a preoperative teenage transsexual girl sharing the locker room with them. The other case involves the rights of an adult transsexual woman to complete her transition by having gender reassignment surgery vs. her parents' desire to block her from having the surgery. In that case, a Pennsylvania judge has issued a stay preventing the woman from having her surgery until the case can be heard.

Because the transsexual girl is a minor, I have chosen to delete her name from the news report by the CBS news affiliate who did publish her name. I don't think publishing her name is the proper thing to do.

In the first case, the CBS affiliate in St. Louis, Missouri reports: " Over 150 Missouri high school students voiced their displeasure about a transgender teen using the girls’ locker room by walking out of class.
Students at Hillsboro High School staged a two-hour walkout Monday over 17-year-old  (the student), a student who has identified as a female since she was 13, using the girls’ locker room during gym class.
The school offered (the student) a gender-neutral bathroom, which she turned down. St. Louis attorney Timm Schowalter says, “All students have a right, under Title 9, to access the bathroom of their choice.”
Family members of high school students were also holding a protest.
“Boys need to have their own locker room. Girls need to have their own locker room, and if somebody has mixed feelings where they are, they need to have their own also,” protester Jeff Childs told KMOV. Childs was holding a “Girls Rights Matter” sign.
Tammy Sorden, whose son goes to Hillsboro High School, believes it’s not right to give (the student) special treatment “while the girls just have to suck it up.”
“The girls have rights, and they shouldn’t have to share a bathroom with a boy,” she told the Post-Dispatch."

As a preoperative transsexual myself, I find myself agreeing with the female students of the high school. I don't think they should have to share a locker room with a preoperative transsexual. That is an environment in which there is not the privacy afforded in a regular women's bathroom. This is an environment in which women are fully disrobed in front of each other and I do think it is important to be sensitive to their feelings about this situation. Personally, at this point in my own transition I think it would be terribly disrespectful to subject genetic women and postoperative transsexual women to my presence in the locker room. In the news report or in the protests by the high school students, I do not see any mention of the girls objecting to this preoperative transsexual girl sharing the regular restrooms. This indicates to me that this particular school's students and faculty are rather tolerant of the transsexual students presence in another intimate place, albeit not as intimate as a locker room. To me the transsexual student is being insensitive to the feelings of the very people she is trying to assimilate with. This is not the way to go about it, in my opinion.

In the second case, I will include the name of the transsexual woman because she is an adult.
The Associated Press reports " A transgender woman whose parents went to court Wednesday to block her gender-reassignment surgery in Pennsylvania said she would rather die on the operating table than continue living with male anatomy.
Christine Kitzler, 48, said during a break in the emergency hearing that the risk factors her father raised - including complications from her HIV and Hepatitis C diagnoses - were worth enduring to have her body match the gender she's identified with since growing up in suburban Cleveland, Ohio.
The surgery, temporarily halted earlier this week by a suburban Philadelphia judge as he considers a longer stay, would also save her from backsliding into alcohol and drug addiction, Kitzler said.
Her parents, Klaus and Ingrid Kitzler, contend Kitzler is not competent to make an informed decision to have the surgery because of depression and a childhood learning disorder, and want a temporary guardian named.
"I might die from this. But it's worth dying," Kitzler said. "I would rather die than live the way I was and return to my bad addictions, like alcohol, because I can't do it and I won't do it."
Kitzler's surgery had been scheduled for Tuesday in Pennsylvania, but Bucks County Judge C. Theodore Fritsch Jr. stopped it after her parents' lawyers filed for an injunction and asked for time for reflection before she goes through with what they called an irreversible surgery.
Testifying at the hearing, Klaus Kitzler underscored his concern for his daughter's health. He said he would accept her surgery if an independent psychiatrist deemed her fit to make the decision.
"I accept it, but I want to stop it," Kitzler told the judge. "I would love to have a son back who goes to church with us on Sunday mornings."
Christine Kitzler, who lives in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, has already been through 16 months of pre-operative preparation, including a 24-hour fast before Tuesday's scheduled surgery, and has received clearances from mental health professionals that she is knowingly and willingly undergoing gender reassignment, her doctor said.
Her lawyer, Angela Giampolo, said she had never seen competency invoked to block a gender-reassignment surgery.
"This isn't a competency hearing. This isn't a guardianship hearing. It's a difference of opinion," the prominent Philadelphia gay-and-transgender-rights lawyer said.
Giampolo said Kitzler's parents are trying to prevent her from living an authentic life. They said they fear Klaus and Ingrid Kitzler want to bring her back to Ohio, win a court action there and permanently block the surgery.
"They have a daughter. They don't have a son," Kitzler said. "I'll have the parts. I am a woman." "

Ms. Kitzler is an adult and she has made a carefully informed decision that having gender reassignment surgery is necessary for her to have a quality of life that makes life itself worth living.
In my opinion, the arguments that she has suffered from depression, has a history of addiction and has a learning disorder are all specious arguments. And here is one reason why the WPATH standards of care exist. 
Let's take this point by point: 1. Ms. Kitzler is an adult and as an adult it is her right to pursue gender reassignment. 2. Show me a person who is transsexual and never suffered from depression to one degree or another. I don't believe there are enough of individuals who have not been depressed in people who are transsexual to be considered statistically significant. 2. Transsexual individuals experience higher rates of addiction and substance abuse than the general population. 3. Having a learning disability in no way impacts the decision to make a gender transition. 4. Having HIV and Hepatitis C infections does not necessarily preclude one from having surgical procedures. 5. None of the above factors generally diminish legal competency.
Because of the guidance of WPATH standards of care, Ms. Kitzler was screened by mental health professionals and found that her mental health and substance abuse issues at this time are not a barrier to treatment and that she is making a well informed and competent decision to pursue gender reassignment surgery. Her physicians have assessed her and found her to be a good surgical risk and are willing to perform the procedure. This should be the end of the story, but it isn't. Her father's sole reason for seeking the court's intervention is that " I just want to have a son who goes to church with us on Sunday mornings." 
If the truth be told, he never had a son, though I do believe he didn't know that for many years. Transsexuals become skilled at living a life and acting out a life that is not authentic. Wouldn't if be more loving and affirming if her father had said, "I'll be looking forward to having my daughter to go to church with us on Sunday morning." 
When this sad episode is over, I'm guessing he will neither have a son or a daughter. My guess is that Ms. Kitzler will never wish to speak to her parents again, or at least for so long a period of time that there will not be much time left in life for them to share. Really, how sad is that? What a terrible thing to happen.

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