Sun, Sep 16, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Department considers allowing ‘sex changes’ without requiring surgery

By Wei Yi-chia and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with Staff writer

The possibility of loosening regulations defining transsexual people is being considered after the Presidential Office’s Human Rights Consultation Committee said a panel of experts would be invited to discuss the feasibility of such a move, the Department of Health said.

During a recent meeting with the committee, a human rights organization proposed that Taiwan follow the US and European countries in loosening regulations so that a person may be legally defined as the gender they identify as.

Bureau of Medical Affairs Director-General Shih Chung-liang (石崇良) said that previously, those who wished to become transsexual in the eyes of the law had to complete a psychiatric assessment and diagnosis by doctors and a sex-change operation.

In 2008, the regulations were loosened so that as long as a person underwent the surgical removal of their ovaries or penis and testicles, they would be assigned a new gender and begin life as a transsexual, he said. The new proposal would eliminate the need for any such surgery.

The department said it would discuss the proposal.

Some doctors specializing in sex reassignment surgeries have expressed reservations about the proposed measure, saying it could lead to difficulties defining transsexuals.

Plastic surgeon Wang Mao-shan (王茂山) said a female wishing to become a male would have to be injected with androgens after undergoing a sex-change operation. Physically, he would be no different from any other male and there would be no doubts when judging what sex he is. However, should regulations be loosened so that all a transsexual needs is a psychiatric diagnosis, there would be no such clarity over their sex.

Wang said going from being male to female is a much easier surgical process, requiring only one operation and rest for a week.

For a female to change her sex to male, the ovaries, uterus and vagina have to be removed, then they have to undergo phalloplasty and relocation of the urethra to the phallus, Wang said, adding that the entire procedure might take up to a year or more.

Wang said procedures for male-to-female surgeries cost about NT$400,000, and female-to-male surgeries cost about NT$700,000.

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