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Monday, October 17, 2005

She's a jolly poor fellow

The Times Online
By Carol Sarler

LAST MONTH it was a vicar who joined the first police officer and the first bank manager; last week, with another slash of the scalpel, we were introduced to “Britain’s first transsexual GP” as Dr Vanda Zadorozny, with womb removed, breasts lopped off, a hefty dose of testosterone and a short back-and-sides, reappeared in her surgery as Dr Richard Curtis.

The doctor’s patients, we are predictably told, have been “supportive”. But then, people usually are. As the procedure becomes increasingly commonplace, so there is a widening liberal acceptance that she is indeed he (or, more usually, otherwise) simply because she or he elects to be — an acceptance that is as kind and well-meaning as it is contrary.

It is, for a start, at odds with another strand of liberal thought: that we shall not be defined by our reproductive parts. Not by bulk of penis or breast, we insist, shall we be judged. Quite right, too. One of the achievements of the women’s movement is that what was so widely admired in, say, Jayne Mansfield, is now ridiculed by all save Daily Star “readers” in, say, Jordan. But for a society that trips over itself to reassure a mastectomy patient that she is no less of a woman then blithely to accept that, thanks to similar surgery, “Dr Richard” is no longer a woman at all, is absurd.

The making of a complete man or woman is a long process, involving roles in child play, the angst of puberty, the struggles of adolescence; it is the inner and the outer and the body and the soul and the history of a person, it cannot be substituted by surgery or drugs and it is insulting to those of us who served the full tour of duty to suggest that it can.

So what, you say? Can we not stand the insult, if “Dr Richard” was sad and now is not? And it is true that no harm is done — although it is also true that there is a recognised condition of body dysmorphia where patients plead that they are amputees trapped inside an able body; very rarely do they find a surgeon therefore willing to remove an offending limb. Far too extreme a cure for misery.

However compassionate one might care to be, transsexualism is also an extreme measure of cosmetic surgery. And while I wish the good doctor no personal ill, I am still glad that this is not my GP: anyone so capriciously destructive of the healthy body that Nature gave them would not be welcome near the one she gave me.

Urge... to... bitch... slap.... rising, Rage ...building!... Must.... nooot.... giivve.... iinn !


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