The New York Times is featuring the story of Katherine Boone, a transgender woman who underwent sex reassignment surgery (SRS) at age 18. The article is not entirely positive, and casts SRS for “teenagers” as something new and scary. For the record, at age 18 Katherine is a full legal adult, able to run her own affairs, enlist and die in military service, and be treated as an adult by default by the legal system of this country. So the “teenager” moniker is somewhat deceptive here. In fact, age 18 is not even the youngest at which SRS is performed. In Europe, for example, SRS has been performed at age 16 (such as the case of an anonymous transgender girl in Spain in 2009) or authorized at age 16 (such as English transgender girl Jackie Green who underwent both facial feminization surgery and SRS on her 16th birthday in Thailand).
Despite throwing out somewhat discouraging (and not entirely accurate) statements like this:
Given that there are no proven biological markers for what is known as gender dysphoria, however, there is no consensus in the medical community on the central question: whether teenagers, habitually trying on new identities and not known for foresight, should be granted an irreversible physical fix for what is still considered a psychological condition.
The article clearly presents Katherine as a young lady who was clearly suffering deeply from her gender dysphoria, and who very much needed this surgery.
It was the cutting that convinced them that if she could not live as a girl, Kat would kill herself. She still has two angry scars on her left forearm. “It became clear to me that this wasn’t a passing phase or some choice or reaction,” Mr. Boone said. “This was truly the basis of what she was.”
The article further covers the problems of the expense of puberty blockers, which are not covered under pretty much any insurance on this planet, and which can run thousands of dollars per year (unlike estradiol and spironolactone, which are much cheaper). And it does spend some time speaking on how debilitating the surgery was for Ms. Boone, which many of us have either personally experienced, or witnessed via our friends.
There is a lot of information in this testimonial article; it’s worth a look.