Teen’s Self-Mastectomy Attempt Sparks Debate Over Transgender Healthcare

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In May, a New Zealand newspaper reported an 18-year-old female was admitted to the emergency room after attempting to remove her own breasts due to anxiety over an upcoming pool party. Despite New Zealand having universal health care, which covers “gender-affirming” medical options, this case has been widely reported as evidence of a larger system that discriminates against transgender-identifying people.

LGBTQ Nation, for example, argues, “The lack of gender-affirming care drove [her] to this desperate act.” Another New Zealand site declared, “Call for better access to gender-affirming surgery after Kiwi teen attempts to remove own breasts at home.” The teenager was already taking testosterone and was on a waiting list for an elective double mastectomy, covered by the country’s health care system.

The teenager just couldn’t wait the year timeframe, and the “significant psychological stress of having breasts at an upcoming pool party, pushed [her] to try the surgery [herself],” according to the New Zealand Medical Journal. So she watched YouTube videos on self-mastectomies and began removing her own breasts. She was rushed to the hospital, where her self-inflicted wounds were addressed. However, to prevent further self-harm, the doctors elected to perform the double mastectomy right then.

The hospital proudly reported the patient was doing well: “He reported improvement in self-esteem and self-confidence and his ability to complete school work, and was looking forward to enrolling at university.” The case is being used by activists, including medical professionals, to push for more “access” for transgender-identifying patients. “With increasing demand and associated psychological and possible physical harm, it is crucial for public services to be more accessible to an under-served population,” according to the New Zealand Medical Journal.

Gender Minorities Aotearoa Executive Director Te Ahi Wi-Hongi, implying home surgeries are common due to long waiting times, told a New Zealand paper, “Nobody wants to do [self-surgery], and people know they’re probably not going to have good outcomes, but it’s an absolute absence of options for most.”

While LGBT activists are exploiting this case as evidence of a greater need for transgender services, paid for by the government and available with little to no barriers, they seem unaware of the message they are really sending. We are repeatedly told that transgender individuals do not suffer from a psychological disorder and that they experience distress solely due to a lack of social acceptance and access to health care.

A Sign of Bad Mental Health

However, here is a case of a young woman having exactly what activists demand is necessary and still being driven to drastic self-harm in her pursuit of so-called gender identity and validation. We are meant to believe that waiting a year for free elective surgery was so unacceptable and oppressive that she had no other choice but to cut open her own breasts at home?

Outside the transgender context, self-mutilation, especially of sexual organs, is considered a severe example of mental illness or distress. A 2023 study published in The American Journal of Psychiatry on male genital self-mutilation (GSM) argues, “The available literature suggests that GSM is a manifestation of co-occurring psychiatric illnesses (namely, psychotic and substance use disorders).”

In one case of a male who performed this procedure on himself, “The patient was initiated on antipsychotic medication given his documented history of schizophrenia and his providers’ concern for symptoms of delusions and disorganized thought process.” How can one case of self-mutilation related to sexual body parts be due to delusion and irrational behavior that is considered a serious psychiatric condition, but another case of self-mutilation is a legitimate cry for help for so-called medically necessary health care?

Body Image Disorders

A condition known as body integrity disorder (BID) represents a rare situation in which there is a “mismatch between someone’s mental picture of their body image and their actual physical self.” A famous example is of a woman who poured drain cleaner into her eyes to blind herself as she believed she was meant to be a blind person. A CNN article reported a support group of 16 men who all wanted to surgically remove their left legs.

The Mayo Clinic defines another similar condition: “Body dysmorphic disorder is a mental health condition in which you can’t stop thinking about one or more perceived defects or flaws in your appearance — a flaw that appears minor or can’t be seen by others. But you may feel so embarrassed, ashamed and anxious that you may avoid many social situations.”

Both conditions, as well as the above example of self-mutilation, require nonsurgical treatments that focus on therapy and medications. Yet, again, a young woman attempting to cut off her own breasts is viewed as evidence that “gender-affirming care,” or elective surgery, is needed more than ever.

The woman who blinded herself also feels a sense of positive self-esteem and relief in her decision. She states, “I was so happy, I felt that this was who I was supposed to be.” She also said: “I went blind on purpose, but I don’t feel it was a choice.”

Speaking about the case, Dr. Michael First, professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University in New York, argued that perhaps indulging the patient is the best path forward for this condition — however, after elective amputation or disabling of healthy bodily functions, “how do you know once you have done it that they are going to be satisfied?”

The woman insisted, “I would say that it’s selfish to refuse treatment to somebody with a disorder. This is not a choice, it’s a need based on a disorder of the brain.” It is reasonable to ask how this is any different from transgender demands for elective amputations and disabling of healthy bodily functions.

It should not be controversial to witness a young woman mutilate herself at home due to anxiety over a pool party and recognize the broader medical and ethical concerns surrounding so-called “gender-affirming care.” Yet LGBT advocates, along with many medical professionals, insist it is merely more proof that transgender-identifying people require “medically necessary care,” funded by the taxpayer.

Chad Felix Greene
Chad Felix Greene
Senior Contributor. Chad is the author of Surviving Gender: My Journey Through Gender Dysphoria, and is a social writer focusing on truth in media, conservative ideas and goals, and true equality under the law.

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