Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Sex Change Operations: Are They Choice or Necessity?

The Tampa Bay Area (in Florida) has become a great area for scandals; many of them make world news. The latest one surrounds Steve Stanton, the City Manager for Largo (one of the suburbs here). He was about to go through a sex change operation, but word got out before the operation occurred. The city council fired him yesterday.

Reaction is mixed. Some people are furious with the city council, others are applauding it. News hounds have descended in droves to interview Steve, who is very happy to give interviews left and right.

The question that underpins all of this: Are sex change operations a choice or a necessity? If they're a choice, and we feel that choice is reprehensible to the majority of Largo's citizens, then he can and should be fired. But what if, as Stanton will undoubtedly argue, it's a necessity?

In some cities in California, sex change operations (known to the politically correct as "sex reassignment surgery") are now covered through insurance for any government employees but this policy is being re-assessed in many areas.

The IRS Office of Chief Counsel ruled that sex change operations are a cosmetic procedure, unless due to a congenital abnormality, an accident or trauma, or a disfiguring disease, which are required to qualify for a medical deduction. Most Sex Reassignment patients are diagnosed as suffering from Gender Identity Disorder and must have a doctor’s recommendation to undergo the surgery.

Traditional Values Coalition Chairman Louis Sheldon says, “There is a whole network of individuals on the internet who think they would be better off having their arms or legs chopped off. Should surgeons help these people who suffer from what’s called ‘apotemnophilia’ to remove their arms and legs? Of course, not. These individuals have a mental problem – not a physical problem.” He then adds that people who wish to undergo sex change operations "...should not be encouraged to have life-altering surgery to fix a problem inside the mind.”

Historically, the court system has always upheld the employer's right to fire under such circumstances, ruling repeatedly that Title VII does not embrace transsexual discrimination.

So Steve Stanton has a weight of evidence against him. His only feasible argument is that it's elective cosmetic surgery, but as he admitted, he "had an eight-page plan to acclimate staff. He believed his employees would have accepted him as a woman if he had had a chance to educate them," according to the St. Pete Times. There is no other cosmetic surgery that requires an 8-page plan in order "acclimate" anyone. This in itself indicates the extremity of the situation.

Obviously sex change operations are a choice: Not only is the evidence of this overwhelming, but the court of public opinion has already weighed in.


Anonymous said...

It is my opinion that someone seeking a sex change operation has a serious mental illness and needs treatment not surgery. My question is does that mental illness impair the person from doing their job? I can't really know but someone who is ill enough to be considering a sex change operation definitely worries me. Although my opinion may not be considered politically correct. I think we allow too much in the name of being PC. There are a good number of behaviors that I think are a result of a mental illness that we as a society are supposed to accept. I'm sorry but I won't accept that getting a sex change operation is an acceptable behavior. I won't say that I think cross-dressing is acceptable, it is a sign of a mental illness and needs treatment not acceptance. I could continue with my feelings on this but I really don't want to anger people. I have my opinions but I generally keep them to myself because having a negative opinion seems to no longer be acceptable.


The Lazy Iguana said...

Humm. Good question here.

I discount things the "morality police" say as they have an agenda behind everything they say or do - that that is to force the universe to conform to their view of "the truth". Yea there are some people who visualize themselves as amputees, but doctors do not help them - so his point is moot. They only get medical help after they have mutilated a limb to bad that amputation is the only medical option.

Now here is how I see it. IF you define a sex change operation as "cosmetic" or "elective" then legally it SHOULD be treated the same as a tummy tuck, nose job, boob job, or any of the other elective cosmetic operations done. These procedures are accepted without question. But it is a mental condition that makes one think their tits are too small, or their nose is too hooked?

Case and point here - Michael Jackson. How much flack has he got for his hundreds of elective cosmetic procedures? Yet when people say "I want a nose job" nobody thinks "crazy person here".

No, nose jobs and boob jobs are not only accepted but largely encouraged.

As for sex change operations - there is clearly some stuff people are thinking about when they get them. And you may not understand what that thought process is. But I do not know if it is always a mental illness or not. It gets back to the debate about if being gay is a mental illness or not.

Many people that go through sex changes are happier after it is over. A lot happier. They do not display any signs of mental illness. They adjust to life as a man or woman quickly - sometimes even getting married OR in the case of "Tula" end up in Playboy (as a woman). They are not "crazy" or on medication or anything.

Before you can get your unit lopped off, you have to go through extensive screening. The idea is to weed out those with mental problems. A lot of people that seek the operation are never approved for it. You have to take hormones for years, you have to live as the opposite sex (pre-op), adopt a male or female name, and so on.

In other words - you do not just wake up and say "bye bye penis" and have it lopped off before lunch that day.

I worked with someone in the process of a sex change. "Shim" was hired for a federal job with TSA. Anyhow, Shim seemed to have problems. Shim was a tall and fat dude. Plain and simple. The name tag had a female name - but the whole thing was just very strange.

Shim had a poor attitude and did not get along well with anyone. Shim would ALWAYS say "I am a ma'am not a sir" when someone called it "he" or "sir" or "dude" or whatever. In a voice deeper than Conan The Barbarian's. It would also wear a Yarmulke on the Jewish High Holy Days - something that traditionally only men wear.

Anyway Shim probably had problems. TSA fired Shim for sleeping on the job, which it did. But the truth is the agency was looking for a way to fire it - but needed a good reason to avoid being sued (Shim used the threat of a lawsuit all the time). Sleeping on the job days after another employee sleeping on the job caused a major security breech that dumped half the airport and caused everyone on 5 concourses and a dozen planes recalled to the gates to be re-screened was that good reason.

I doubt that Shim would make it through the selection process.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

I don't know, Ms. Kraut. I can see him getting fired if he hurt somebody else, but a sex change operation doesn't hurt anybody except the one who gets it.

Tea & Margaritas in My Garden said...

I agree with oldhorsetailsnake. It`s all really bizzarre to me.


Senor Caiman said...


I couldn't walk for a week after my hernia operation.

It's gotta hurt to have your penis and scrotum replaced with a vagina.

Couldn't he just play dress-up at home?

Anonymous said...

Say what you will about the wisdom of what's he's doing, the law seems to be on his side. I've analyzed it on my blog

Saur♥Kraut said...

Dr. Weiss, I'm sorry, but we'll have to agree to disagree. And I'll happily match my doctorate to yours any day. I see this is where you gain your living, so I understand that you are biased.

Gator, ouch. I don't think dress-up was enough anymore...

Tea & Margaritas and Old Hoss, granted, it's his life and he isn't hurting anyone physically. However, we also have to wonder if such eccentricity makes him qualified to run a city.

Lazy Iguana, good points. However, it really doesn't relate to the question of whether or not being gay is mentally ill. After all, there are plenty of gays that don't go to such extremes. And some people who are sexually altered to the opposite sex still prefer to have sex with their ORIGINAL opposite sex partner(s). In otherwords, Jack might become Jill but he still prefers Goldilocks. It is more akin to an extreme self-loathing than it is to a sexual preference.

Ange, excellent points. Thank you for your contribution. I always enjoy it when you drop by!

Scott said...

I can't believe that they would fire him. He didn't even have the operation first of all and if someone wants to do that what is the issue? I don't get it....

I believe that it is a choice but for some people it is one that is necessary. It is not like you can just pop into the clinic and have surgery to have a sex change it is a very complicated medical procedure that involves phsychiatric treatment as well as hormone therapy and lifestyle issues. I think that if someone will be happier as another sex then who are we to judge and certainly an employer has no place in this discussion.

The Lazy Iguana said...

Shim claimed to still like chicks. Which was kind of crazy. But Shim (she/him) was an ugly dude so maybe it figured it would have better luck with a hot lesbian. You know, the Butch/Barbie thing.

But I do not know if this is always the case with sex change operations. I do not know if sexuality works that way. For example, there was one case where a child was born mostly female. So the parents listened to the doctors and raised the kid as a girl. But the "girl" never wanted to be a girl. She never liked to wear dresses or do girl things. Eventually she declared herself to be a lesbian and then after learning the truth got a sex change to a male identity. I think he/she/it finally killed himself. The truth was too much to live with.

So what defines sexuality? I do not know. I do not ever remember making a decision to think chicks are hot. So why would it be that a gay person "decides" to be gay? I did not "decide" not to be gay. It just is. It just always has been.

I do not think our sexuality is a choice any more than our skin color is a choice. It is just something that is part of us.

Do some people change their sex to be involved in homosexual relationships? It seems so. Dude becomes Dudette so it can hook up with lesbians. Or whatever.

But is this the norm? Do most people who get a sex change operation go for people of their new sex? I do not know.

What I do know is that things are often far more complicated than they seem to be.

Marti said...

I'm not really going to spend too much time discussing things here, because it's pretty obvious that you have no desire for debate. Pretty typical on the internet, you state your opinion and then shoot down any disagreement. You discount Dr Weiss without stating any logical argument, instead you try to play some sort of educational war of the degrees.

When sexual reassignment surgery is an option that can be obtained by simply going to a surgeon and plopping down the cash, I'll agree with you that it's a choice. If transsexuality is removed from the DSM IV and SRS (sexual reassignment surgery) can be obtained without a diagnosis of GID disorder, I'll agree with you it's a choice. But right now, it's a treatment to a "mental illness" that requires many hoops to be jumped through.

Your question makes no logical sense. All treatments to mental illnesses are "choices." The question is, is this choice needed. There's 100 years of research behind gender dysphoria, and according to the Standards of Care used to treat transsexuals:

"Sex Reassignment is Effective and Medically Indicated in Severe GID. In persons diagnosed with transsexualism or profound GID, sex reassignment surgery, along with hormone therapy and real life experience, is a treatment that has proven to be effective. Such a therapeutic regimen, when prescribed or recommended by qualified practitioners, is medically indicated and medically necessary. Sex reassignment is not "experimental," "investigational," "elective," "cosmetic," or optional in any meaningful sense. It constitutes very effective and appropriate treatment for transsexualism or profound GID."

Ms. Stanton didn't deserve to be fired simply for transitioning. But the fact that she will be, is a loss for the people of Largo. It's their loss, more than it is hers. My guess is that with a history of a six figure income, Ms. Stanton wont have to worry about her financial situation.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Hey, let people do what they please to their bodies, if I was trapped in the body of a woman I'd want me a cock and some ball.

Victoria said...

I agree with Lazy. Furthermore, when you claim that " some people who are sexually altered to the opposite sex still prefer to have sex with their ORIGINAL opposite sex partner(s).", I think you're confusing gender and sexual orientation. Just because I am a girl doesn't imply that I like men-- it just means that I identify myself in such a way.

R2K said...

Such an annoying concept that I might have to pay for these things. It is a selfish act and so human to discount what you got from birth simply because you are not happy with it and want something different. I see this as identical to breast implants, penile enlargements, butt enhancements, hair plugs, eyeball polishing...

Saur♥Kraut said...

R2K, I agree with you 100%.

Victoria, well of course! My point being that it's not a "gay" issue, in that case.

Daniel, and if it's something that someone prefers, then they can do it and pay for it, for all of me. Personally (and I didn't add that earlier, because I attempt to be objective) I truly don't care if someone wants to self-mutilate as long as they leave me and my loved ones out of it. ;o)

Marti, you simply don't understand me or my point of view, but that's understandable since it's your first time here. I don't really wish to debate, because there is honestly little to debate here. I'm not whipping out my degree and saying "mine is bigger than yours". What I'm saying is that I don't bow to someone merely because they're degreed. I.e., I don't see her as any more of an authority as any other reader of mine.

You don't understand the essence of treating the mentally ill. You don't treat the mentally ill by catering to the illness. You help them conquer it. Let's use a variant of the other example: If you're mentally ill enough to want to lop off your arm and you do so, it's not considered to be a wise solution, even though it IS a solution. As for Mr. Stanton, he will continue to be an altered Mr. for as long as he lives. To call him Ms. is to be disingenuous at best. However, please note what I said to Daniel above.

Lazy Iguana, ;o)

Scott, yes and no. First see my response to Daniel. But, in Stanton's best interest: Should his doctors encourage such self-mutilation when a less extreme and healthier course might be found (such as therapy, medications, etc).

Wolfgang said...

Transsexulity is an intersex condition, a congenital birth defect caused by hormonal imbalances in the womb during key developmental stages. The brain is every bit as sexually differentiated an organ as the genitals, and that differentiation begins at about 8 weeks of age. Most transsexual children know there's something wrong with them by the age of four years.

Not all transsexuals get genital surgery (widely known as SRS). It seems most transwomen (like stanton) either get it or want it but can't afford it. Most transmen (like myself) don't get genital surgery. It's much more expensive for us and the results are limited in form and function. I call it "genital surgery" rather than "SRS" because the greater part of sex reassignment comes not through surgery, but through hormone replacement. Most transmen get mastectomy/chest reconstruction surgery though.

Transsexuality is not a mental illness, it is a physical birth defect.

Groggle said...

You don't understand the essence of treating the mentally ill. You don't treat the mentally ill by catering to the illness. You help them conquer it.

Ummm...I hate to point out the obvious, but if you actually did some research into transsexuals and their stories, you would find that transition is very much the _last_ choice, often preceded by internal struggles to survive in their birth gender that last for decades.

Transition is not about "getting bits cut off". Transition is a process of learning to adapt and live in the social milieu of "the other gender". Surgery is sometimes a part of that picture, sometimes not.

A transsexual poses no threat to anyone - including themselves - as they transition. In fact, often they become far more productive, contributing members of society post-transition than they were before.

Regardless of what the law and courts may have said, firing someone for dealing openly and honestly with a gender identity conflict is simply mean spirited behaviour born primarily of ignorance.

Cranky Yankee said...

What did they actual fire him for? Was it the sex change or paying for it? Would is the difference between that and a nose job, as it applies to other people. If he paid for it himself would he have still been fired? Why is it anyone else's business what this guy does with his penis?

Anonymous said...

You have got to love all of you god fearing people for you closed minds, and not that bright might I add. If you look up on the new studies of transsexuality, doctors have proven biological defects in transexuals in-utero stages of development. You know meaning transsexuality is proven not to be a mental disorder. Idiots.
Love, an idiot myself