Our review article on sexual reassignment surgery demonstrated that SRS violates basic medical and ethical principles and is therefore not ethically or medically appropriate.
(1) SRS mutilates a healthy, non-diseased body. To perform surgery on a healthy body involves unnecessary risks; therefore, SRS violates the principle primum non nocere, “first, do no harm.”
(2) Candidates for SRS may believe that they are trapped in the bodies of the wrong sex and therefore desire or, more accurately, demand SRS; however, this belief is generated by a disordered perception of self. Such a fixed, irrational belief is appropriately described as a delusion.
(3) SRS, therefore, is a “category mistake” — it offers a surgical solution for psychological problems such as a failure to accept the goodness of one’s masculinity or femininity, lack of secure attachment relationships in childhood with same-sex peers or a parent, self-rejection, untreated gender identity disorder, addiction to masturbation and fantasy, poor body image, excessive anger and rebelliousness and severe psychopathology in a parent.
(4) SRS does not accomplish what it claims to accomplish. It does not change a person’s sex; therefore, it provides no true benefit.
(5) SRS is a “permanent,” effectively unchangeable, and often unsatisfying surgical attempt to change what may be only a temporary (i.e., psychotherapeutically changeable) psychological/psychiatric condition.
Pope Benedict XVI spoke on this issue in 2008:
The tropical forests are deserving, yes, of our protection, but man merits no less than the creature, in which there is written a message which does not mean a contradiction of our liberty, but its condition(Pope Benedict XVI, December 22, 2008).
Youth have the right to be provided informed consent about gender confusion and the serious medical and psychiatric associated with sexual reassignment surgery. Pediatricians, mental health professionals, physicians, nurses and school counselors have a clear legal responsibility to do so and parents, family members, educators, politicians and clergy have a moral responsibility to protect youth.
Rick Fitzgibbons, MDis the director of the Institute for Marital Healing outside Philadelphia and has worked with several thousand couples over the past 38 years. Trained in psychiatry at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia Child Guidance Center, he participated in cognitive therapy research with Aaron T. Beck. In 1986 he wrote a seminal paper on the psychotherapeutic uses of forgiveness in the treatment of excessive anger and in 2000 coauthored Helping Clients Forgive: An Empirical Guide for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hopewith Dr. Robert D. Enright, University of Wisconsin, Madison, for American Psychological Association Books. The second edition of this book is in press. He has been an adjunct professor at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for the Studies of Marriage and Family (The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC) and a consultor to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy.