Sex change rules mended

09:07, November 23, 2009      

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The rules about who can and cannot get permission for a sex change operation has been changed.

Only those 20 or above with documented psychological reasons will be allowed to become a transsexual. And only surgeons with at least 10 years of related experience in hospitals approved by health authorities may carry out such procedures, according to the new regulations unveiled by the Ministry of Health.

Experts in plastic surgery welcomed the move announced Friday but also called for more measures to protect patients from institutions that may violate the rules.

The regulations said only upper first-class polyclinic or cosmetic surgery hospitals with approval from the health department are allowed to carry out the operation. The surgeons should have plastic surgery experience of more than 10 years, including five years with sex change operations and having performed independently at least 10 operations on reconstructing reproductive organs.

A psychologist should assess whether the patients are destined to have a sex change.

Chen Huanran, a renowned plastic surgeon and gender-realignment specialist, told the Global Times yesterday that the regulations are needed.

"China finally has its regulations on sex-change operations. It's very significant since the legislation for transsexuals represents somewhat a nation's development in civilization," he said. "The situation that half of the surgeons currently in the nation are disqualified. The regulations offers more protection to patients."

The regulations were announced five months after the ministry issued a draft of clinical guidelines on sex change surgery with a call for public opinion.

But Chen said the regulations do not specify the detailed procedures and criteria for successful operations.

"Some institutions performed surgeries without the correct process," Chen said, adding 60 percent of his patients sought corrective surgery after botched procedures.

"It would be too late when the patients are regretful after the surgery," he said.
He said some institutions might not follow the rules.

A staff of Plastic Surgery Hospital told the Global Times reporter inquiring as a patient that they accept clients who are 18 and above. Chongqing Evening News quoted many private plastic surgery hospitals as saying that clients would be accepted as long as they have money.

"Medical institutions like to perform the operations because it is profitable and will bring the hospital more exposure to the public," he said.

Han Bingbing, the country's transsexual showbiz celebrity, also said the regulations were inadequate.

"There are no specifics on the pre and post operation practices," Han said. "China aims to measure up with Western countries in this aspect but still has a lot to learn."

In 2001, male singer Li Ying sued a Plastic Surgery Hospital in Hangzhou over a failed sex change operation that he got done nine years ago.

Li claimed that the medical staff there failed to do their job and he suffered a recession in his private area. But the court ruled against Li in 2002 since no expert could conclude that the operation was a failure.

However, there are some cases with happy endings.

An 18-year-old tomboy, Chenchen had a 200,000-yuan ($29,288) transsexual operation in Dongfang Cosmetic and Reconstructive Hospital in Zhengzhou, Henan Province. Li Qingfang, a doctor at the hospital, said the surgery in 2008 was a success.

"The last time I saw Chenchen, (he) was happy and manly-looking after six months' recovery and adjustment," Li told the Global Times yesterday.

Plastic surgeon Chen said self-monitoring within the industry is also important.

Source: Global Times
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