When I wrote my last piece about transsexualism it was to denounce the decision by a court in Victoria that has allowed a twelve year old girl to be given hormones to delay puberty because her mother is convinced that she is “actually a boy”. As I said then trying to reshape the mind in the first instance is a much wiser course of action. The experience of Charles Kane shows just how traumatic it can be when the doctor is far too keen to wield the knife…
Born Sam Hashimi, the divorced father-of-two had a sex change in 1997 to turn him into glamorous blonde Samantha Kane.
Then, in 2004, after seven years living as a woman, he decided he wanted to be a man after all. He is now in the unique position of knowing what it is like to be both a woman and a man, and he has reached the conclusion that it is much better being a man – even with the current disadvantages.
“The trouble is, I would much rather be the man I was before all this,” he says.
Charles blames his ghastly predicament on the UK’s then top expert on transsexualism, gender psychiatrist Dr Russell Reid – now retired – who in 2007 was reprimanded by the General Medical Council for rushing patients into sex-change treatments.
Dr Russell Reid was found guilty of serious misconduct by a GMC panel who rebuked him for his “lack of caution in initiating hormonal and surgical gender reassessment treatment in patients without more careful and thorough investigation and assessment”.
Charles was one of those who complained and, while the hearing was ongoing, he was already in the process of changing back into a man.
Having decided he was not a true transsexual, but had been ‘confused’ after the break-up of his 12-year marriage, Charles had his breast implants removed and underwent three operations at the NHS gender clinic at Charing Cross Hospital to reconstruct his male genitalia, using skin grafts from his stomach.
“At first it was very enjoyable being a woman, especially being a beautiful woman in business.
“People notice you and it is much easier to make your presence felt at a meeting. I was flattered by the attention.
“I became much more creative as a person, and less aggressive. Whereas, once as a man it had taken me seconds to make a decision, I would think things through much more carefully, weighing up all the options before deciding what to do.
“People completely underestimate the effect of male and female hormones. Speaking from my own experience, they affect every part of your life, physically and emotionally.
“And then there is the sex. As a man, sex was a very physical and more enjoyable experience, but as a woman it was much more dependent on my mood and emotions.
“As a man, I thought about sex every day, but as a woman if I hadn’t had sex for a couple of months I wasn’t really bothered.
“Sex as a woman isn’t as good anyway. It is not as intense.”
Although Charles was initially thrilled with his transformation into a woman – and a beautiful one at that – the novelty soon began to pale and he began to wonder if he was merely playing a part rather than feeling like a real woman.
What this story suggests to me is that something as drastic as “gender reassignment surgery” should never be rushed into because such mutilations are not really reversible and no matter how convincing the result of skilled surgery it is far from convincing even to the recipient of the surgeon’s talent. I wonder how many others who have this type of surgery also end up regretting their decision to go under the knife?
I want to conclude where I began by going back to that decision in the family court of Victoria those of us who have children know that they may be terribly convincing in telling us what they think that we want to hear from them and at one level they may even believe the story that they are telling. Given time and some appropriate counselling that girl may well come to accept the skin that she is in but even if that does not happen prudence suggests that making sure before consulting a surgeon is the only way that a tragic consequence like that endured by Charles Kane can be avoided.
it ain’t simple Comrades