Yes, ‘Gender-Affirming Surgery’ on Minors Is Mutilation—and Yes, It’s Child Abuse

September 9, 2022 Updated: September 9, 2022

Commentary

If a surgeon uses her scalpel to cut into and permanently alter the reproductive organs of a young girl in the name of Third World religious and cultural traditions, we call it “female genital mutilation.”

It’s now a felony under a stiff federal law passed with bipartisan support in 2020 and signed by Donald Trump shortly before he left the presidency in January 2021. Anyone who enables this drastic surgery, from performing the procedures personally to transporting the young victims to more accommodating physicians outside the United States, is subject to a five-to-ten-year prison term.

But if a surgeon uses her scalpel to cut into and permanently alter the reproductive organs of a young girl in the name of First World medical ideology, we call it “gender-affirming care.”

It has the full approval of such august physicians’ organizations as the American Medical Association and the American Pediatric Academy. The procedure can be “bottom surgery”—removing ovaries and uterus and attempting to construct a penis to replace the girl’s vagina—or it can be “top surgery”—slicing off her breasts. But we are simply forbidden to use the same vocabulary in describing this form of body-modification that we use when we talk about the body-modifying cultural practices of Asians and Africans.

It’s like Fight Club. The first rule of genital mutilation of minors is you do not talk about genital mutilation of minors.

For example, in February, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued an opinion (pdf) deeming these “irreversible sterilization procedures” to be “child abuse.” Along with body-deforming surgery he included such interventions as administering puberty blockers and massive doses of opposite-sex hormones to adolescents and pre-adolescents who might be experiencing unhappiness with their biological sex.

“These chemical procedures prevent a person’s body from developing the capability to procreate,” Paxton wrote.

Texas is one of about 19 states that have passed or have pending bills that would limit access to such surgery and drugs for minors. Texas’s Republican governor, Greg Abbott, directed child-protection services to investigate such cases. Earlier, Abbott had used the forbidden m-word in a radio interview: “Any type of genital mutilation is child abuse.”

The progressive Texas Tribune—not to mention the Texas medical and civil-liberties establishments—went ballistic.

“[T]rans kids … deserve to have the same health care that all kids have, which is evidence-based health care that serves to promote their growth and development to help them become healthy, fully functioning adults,” the Tribune quoted Seth Kaplan, president of the Texas Pediatric Society, as saying.

Sahiyo, an Asian women’s organization specifically formed to battle genital mutilation, opined: “Right now, legislators in Texas and Idaho are looking to use pre-existing bans on FGC [female genital cutting] to block transgender youth from receiving life-saving, medically necessary gender-affirming treatments. This is a discriminatory action that has no basis in the crucial work to end FGC.”

Ms. Magazine chimed in: “[Abbott’s] irresponsible and incorrect use of the term ‘mutilation’ takes attention away from the actual, serious problem of mutilation and cutting in the United States today.”

National Public Radio went on its own outrage-binge, insinuating that Abbott’s administration was “criminaliz[ing] transition care.”

“The Texas Legislature already tried to ban transgender kids from accessing puberty blockers, hormone therapy and gender-affirming surgeries,” Houston Public Radio reporter Sara Willa Ernst sniffed.

The NPR segment included an interview by Ernst with a 17-year-old biological female renamed “Alexander” who had been taking testosterone for “several years”—which translates to starting at age 13 or 14.

Never mind that there’s something unsettling about subjecting 13-year-olds—or even 18-year-olds—who find adolescence stressful or feel dissatisfied over the way they look—to drugs that will make it impossible to have children of their own, much less body-deforming surgery and the excision of perfectly healthy tissue and organs.

If a teenage girl is injuring herself by binding her chest so as to look like a boy, wouldn’t it be less intrusive to counsel her about accepting her body rather than scheduling her for a double mastectomy? Can a 14-year-old meaningfully contemplate the implications, medical and psychological, of having to inject herself with a massive dose of testosterone once a week for the rest of her life?

It’s bad enough—and genuinely abusive (sorry, Dr. Kaplan and the rest of the medical establishment)—to deform and sterilize people who are legally just children in every other way. The British government has already shut down its Tavistock gender-identity clinic after a report severely criticized its clinicians’ “unquestioning affirmative approach” to the wholesale dispensing of radical surgery and powerful drugs to confused and depressed youngsters and adolescents. A class-action lawsuit quickly followed on behalf of 1,000 families of young people alleging long-term harm from the supposed treatments. Expect the “gender affirmation” worm to similarly turn one of these days in lawyer-overloaded America.

But even worse is the policing of honest language about what “gender-affirming care” really consists of. That affects all of us. A society is defined in great part by its language. And language needs to be honest in order to present a clear and truthful picture of what’s at stake. In this case, we need to say that surgically and medically modifying young people’s bodies simply because they feel uneasy about their biological sex is mutilation pure and simple.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Charlotte Allen is the executive editor of Catholic Arts Today and a frequent contributor to Quillette. She has a doctorate in medieval studies from the Catholic University of America.