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Is 16 Too Young for a Sex Change?

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Psychologists who authorized the surgery in Germany say 16-year-old Tim Petras, now known as Kim Petras, was '"without a doubt, a girl in a boy's body."

Kid talking to his mother

Doctors tell media outlets that Petras has been going through hormone therapy since age 12.

Petras says she is happy with the results of the operation, saying "I've been asked if I feel like a woman now, but the truth is I have always felt like a woman. I just ended up in the wrong body."

In addition, Petra shares "I can enjoy swimming now and wear bikinis, go into changing rooms without a problem. Everything has changed because of this operation. I just can't wait to put on my favorite bathing suit and go swimming like I've never done before."

What do you think about a 16-year-old having a sex change? Is it too young?

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39 comments so far | Post a comment now
ashley February 6, 2009, 8:02 AM

I think anyone having a sex change operation is WRONG and disgusting!!God put us in these bodies for a reason, we shouldn’t go changing our gender. Regardless of my opinion on the whole thing, 16 is way too young. You don’t have the best decision making skills at 16, who knows what you’ll want a few years down the road when you grow up. Craziness!!

chris February 6, 2009, 8:49 AM

I also think 16 is way too young to make a decision about something that will affect the rest of your life. There is a reason that we don’t allow teenagers to make certain decision on their own. Most teenagers dislike school so should we then allow them to skip it. Most teenagers think they can handle drinking and using drugs so should we just allow them to do it. My teenager changes his mind a thousand times a day about the same things over and over. At this age they have no concept of how long “the rest of your life” is. If this boy really wants this then he should have waited until he was an adult and can fully understand the situation. I truly hope that this is not a decision that he will regret someday.

Anon February 6, 2009, 9:43 AM

While I agree that 16 may be a bit young, let’s face it: Why make this child wait any longer pretending to be someone she is not? Now she can grow up like any other teenage girl. I believe this is another side of the coin we should be looking at.

beth February 6, 2009, 11:46 AM

i agree with Anon. sometimes i think people are too closed minded.

justsomebody February 6, 2009, 11:57 AM


You’re missing the whole point here. Kim did not change her gender out of momentary whim, it was not just a “phase”, it was not like she simply woke up one morning thinking inside her puberty-tormented head “hmm… how about I get a sex change… yeah, that would be awesome!”… she knew from as young as age two that she was in the wrong body.

I think it is safe to say that when somebody, even as a child, persistently and despite thorough ongoing psychiatric evaluation feels over 10 years that she was born in the wrong body, and considering that she had been on hormones for four years before actually undergoing gender reassignment surgery - which gave her ample time to rethink her decision! - that it is safe to say you’re dealing with a problem that is real and not simply a sign of adolescent soul-searching and self-finding.

Kim’s case may be rare in that it is clear-cut from beginning to end unlike many others, and it should probably not serve as a blueprint for the treatment of all gender dysphoric children. But it shows that transitioning and undergoing surgery at such a young age can be beneficial to a patient’s well-being.

Anonymous February 6, 2009, 12:27 PM

Justsomebody, what I was trying to say is that sometimes these children feel this way thoughout their childhood but feel differently about it as an adult. I saw a show on Dr. Phil about this subject where a child from the young age of 2 or 3 said the same thing and his parents after many years of trying to change it allowed him to live his life as a girl in his teen years. By time he was 19, he realized he no longer truly felt that way any longer and went back to living his life as a man. I’m not saying that if the child truly feels that way that they shouldn’t be able to change their sex later in life, I just think that a decision that big should not be made until they are past puberty. And I think his/her comment about not being able to wait to wear a bikini to go swimming in shows that he/she is only thinking about the here and now.

chris February 6, 2009, 12:36 PM

Beth, I wasn’t be close minded - maybe some people are too liberal minded. Either way we all should have a chance to speak are minds.

justsomebody February 6, 2009, 1:06 PM

I agree with you that there is a possibility that a transgender child or youth will eventually “grow out of it”, or at least no longer feel the desire to undergo hormone treatment and/or surgery. It does happen, and that’s why thorough psychiatric treatment and analysis are so important - to discern those with “mild” gender dysphoric tendencies from patients who can not be helped other than through gender reassignment.

What I really meant was, in a case like Kim’s, where there was never a doubt that she was in the wrong body, there should at least be the possibility to initiate gender reassignment as early as physiologically reasonable. Just the possibility - I am not saying let’s make it standard procedure!

It is of course a catch-22; either you let somebody go through puberty first until they are an adult, in the belief that their judgement and decision-making skills will somehow have improved drastically because, after all, they are 18, not 16 anymore… OR you enable a patient to skip male puberty altogether, which will drastically improve their chances of eventually passing as an adult female, not to mention preventing the added misery of undesired masculinization… but have the slight risk of regretting this step a few years down the road.

Again, I think in Kim’s case, all proper precautions were met to make sure the treatment was carried out on a person who never has and never will have doubts about her transsexuality, but indeed this may be true for some patients and not for others.

As for Kim’s “bikini” comment - it may surprise you, but I have heard 30 year old transsexuals fresh out of surgery say the exact same thing. It does not prove her immaturity in any way.

beth February 6, 2009, 1:22 PM

chris, i wasn’t speaking about you being closed minded, didn’t mean for you take it that way. obviously you’re not because you are not totally against the sex change, just at that age. and you are right, some people are too liberal minded.

HippyMel February 6, 2009, 4:02 PM

I think we should leave it to God to judge what is right and wrong. There is NOTHING worse than intolerance in the name of religion. Each situation should call for a separate evaluation and in this case, it appears that Kim is mature enough to understand her sexuality. Additionally, if being too liberal constitutes protection of our civil liberties, then we should all be so lucky to be called liberals.

thomas February 6, 2009, 5:34 PM

listen people, god has nothing to do with this. you religious right fanatics who say god will “judge” those who want to help youth who are sure of their sexual identity are projecting your own ignorance and insecurities. I have worked with troubled teens. Many are rejected by their parents for acting “too gay” or “too lesbian” and the harm to these kids is everlasting.

I cannot change you minds, I know. But I can speak out against homophobia, ignorance and hate. I can speak for many of these teens. They do not need your judgment or god’s judgment. They need love and compassion and understanding. That is all.

is eternal on thes

Andrew February 6, 2009, 6:52 PM

Thomas, thank you so much for your post. Teenagers - and that includes gay and transsexual ones - are not the brainless dysfunctional morons incapable of making any decisions whatsoever that some of us adults always make them out to be, but they are maturing individuals who need affirmation and understanding. And please let’s leave God out of the equation. The last thing these kids need is a bible thumping sermon about how they are going to hell for “choosing a gay (or transgender) lifestyle”.

JB February 6, 2009, 9:46 PM

How the H E double hockey sticks does a 2 year old know he wants to be a girl? I mean really people. A 2 year old can’t even verbalize what they want to eat, nerveless a gender decision.

God doesn’t make mistakes and the sooner people realize that the better.

Uly February 7, 2009, 12:53 AM

JB has clearly never known any two year olds :)

As for God never making mistakes, well, that’s as it may be, but you have to rationalize a lot of bad things to believe that line.

Anonymous February 7, 2009, 8:33 AM

You know my soon to be 9 yr old has said since she was 2 that she wants to be a puppy. She is totally obession with animals. No barbies, bratz, or baby dolls for her but she does have appox. 200 stuff animals, about 60 littlest pet shop animals and about 20 webkinz. Every Halloween she wants to dress up as a animal and has know since she could talk that she wants to grow up and work with animals. I would say that she definitly knows what she likes.
Too bad there not a surgery for that. (just a joke)

kythwilde February 7, 2009, 1:15 PM

Hmm, is sixteen too young for a sex change? Not if the parents don’t think so.

mr.x February 9, 2009, 12:13 AM

Way too younge. Something is telling me that this kid isnt gonna be living in girl clothes for a year like they make most people if they want a sex change.

If the kid can dress like a girl until the kid is 18 I am ok with it.

Anna February 12, 2009, 1:42 PM

being a girl is no better then being a boy. I am a Girl but i feel I would be equally happy as a boy. If someone feels one gender is a better option they obviously have some outside influences. Simply put, a parents making suggestions that they would prefer a girl instead of a boy or other sexist bullying could influence such feelings of insatisfaction of their gender. There are no “girls in boys bodys”, just psychologically abused children

Mr. Ol February 16, 2009, 12:16 AM

I hear the argument that gender is in the head whereas sex is physical. But then isn’t the idea that people with a male gender should have a man’s body and people with a female gender should have a woman’s body just another arbitrary gender role? If I was a parent and my kid said they felt like they were really the other gender I’d teach them that it’s OK for guys and girls to have either body type rather than encourage a sex change operation.

Anonymous March 23, 2009, 1:37 PM

i think kim is realy sexy

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