Is it ethical and/or responsible for a parent with a child to get a sex change operation? If so, should a parent have to wait until their child is a certain age before doing so?  
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mod enthusiast.

IAM Page: Dragon Slave

This is an interesting question because I happen to have a friend who is a hermaphrodite. Because of this I will be referring to this person as S/he for the remainder of my answer, using this beautiful person to illustrate my personal point of view. S/he is an absolute sweetheart and JUST recently went to the doctor to find out he was really a S/he. S/he has been raised as a male for 18 years, and talks to me about one day meeting up to get Her/his ears pierced. This thrilled me somewhat, finally having a person in some ways I myself could relate to, being of a bit of a fence-walker in some ways myself. S/he was originally devastated, as Her/his girlfriend of a few months always wanted to have sex and could never 'get it up' because of the condition. I say conditional because I feel it is a condition on a personal scale-- the condition of being male or female according to personal preference. Anyways, this friend of mine was hidden from Her/his true identity-- which can be really, really rough as you grow older. Luckily his parents had a bit of sense and did not send him through any surgeries or anything of the sort. Granted, it would be nice for someone out there to develop a book for children AND parents with this sometimes hard to handle situation. Maybe this is something that's even in the works and exists, I've just been too scatterbrained to find.

Now, after all my ranting, here is my actual mind on the subject. I am very pro the -individual- changing their sex/altering their sex to better equip their True Self. It's almost refreshing in a way, and a bit more mainstream than I thought it was in the past, seeing various programs about the subject and having them on tape. Admiring from afar such beautiful True Self artists I've met online in various forums makes me feel there is hope. Granted, change is good in certain doses, but only by the individuals themselves giving the dosage.

Parents changing their sexes? It all depends, really. On one hand, children are rather blabber-mouthy which might cause a bit of roughness in the transition. On the other hand, they seem keen to the idea (at nearly any age) to role playing and role changing. A game of dress-up or doing something the opposite sex might do would be entertaining for those parties involved, and allow for a grasp as to what the children might think if such surgery were to take place. There's certainly nothing wrong with it, but therapy, play and over all taking the time to work things through would be the best way to go about such a delicate matter.

Something else I feel I should strongly mention while on the subject is parents changing their children's sexes. When they grow older, it really depends on the feelings of the child. Perhaps therapy sessions as I mentioned above, watching how the child acts in groups of others their own age etcetera would probably be the best way to go about things. Take the time to take notes on behaviors of the child-- but don't do it for the sake of the parents. In my 20 years I have come to see how parents and their children are never quite on the same page with certain issues, and thus it is best to leave things alone.

Now, if there is a certain thing wrong with the child that the sexual organs are causing health problems, perhaps it is best that they do in fact change the child's sex. However, if it is just a problem of the parents, I personally feel it is not justified for change.

Over all, you just need to take a step back and evaluate the situation at hand with a careful, even childlike view. New ideas pop up every day with fresh thoughts and feelings, and it is certainly something worth going for.

webmaster of UK.People.Bodyart, co-founder of the newsgroup uk.people.bodyart, and maintainer of the group's IRC channel, #bodyart-uk, on efnet.

IAM Page: smeg

Think of this from the parent's point of view. They feel they are in the wrong gender. They feel misplaced and chances are depressed about who they are, how they appear to people, and what people think of them.

The answer to some of their wishes is a sex change operation. They are available, they are possible.

Are you going to deny them this? This chance to become the gender they feel they should be. The gender they want people to see them as? The gender that will make them whole?

Of course not.

Their friends will hopefully accept them, as will their family and co workers (again, hopefully).

So why wouldn't the children? If there is such a thing as unconditional love, children tend to have it for their parents. They will accept their parents, as long as they understand what is happening, understand it isn't their fault, understand why it's happening.

Children are a very accepting breed. Confronted with something unusual, they will look at it with confused and interested expressions. A parent going through a sex change just needs to take the time to explain to the child what it means. Tell them that Daddy is becoming Mummy because it makes them happy. Explain you will always be there, doing the same things as before, loving them as much as before and they will be happy.

Of course, the children are going to grow up and come to know in much more detail what your change meant. But by that time they will hopefully have gotten used to who you are now, and realize you are still the parent they had before, but with different wibbly bits. It won't come as such a shock to them. They may even be more open minded and accepting of the alternatives as a result.

We are all the sum of our experiences and it will certainly have been an experience for the children.

So yes, I think it is ethical and responsible for a parent to go through a sex change when they have children. It will leave them a better and happier person, which will mean they are a better and happier parent in turn. Children will grow into the idea, and while I'm fairly certain your average teenager will happily use it to attack the parent at *some* point in the puberty years, I'd hope they could grow beyond that.

Children will accept their parents, regardless of the parents' sex.

mod enthusiast, involved with the Om Summer Solstice Festival.

IAM Page: Flip

Firstly, I believe that the term currently in favor is 'gender reassignment' rather than 'sex-change.' 'Sex-Change' implies that the patient was once male and then decided to become female (or vice-versa). Transgendered people typically have the feeling that they were a member of one gender from birth but were given the physical body of the wrong sex.

That said, gender reassignment is a very long process that doesn't begin with heavy cosmetic surgery on the genitals. Clinics that I have researched all require letters from clinical psychiatrists, at least 12 months of living as a member of the desired sex, hormone therapy, and extensive consultation before surgery is made a consideration. I believe that a large portion of the people who begin gender reassignment therapy do not go so far as having the surgery, whether because they are not approved for it or for financial reasons.

Further, everything that I have read leads me to understand that fertility is lost during gender reassignment therapy and surgery.

So for the purpose of this discussion, we'll be talking about the very small number of people who have not been undergoing physical therapy prior to becoming a parent and have since decided to begin gender reassignment. (I discount the possibility of those transgendered people who adopt, as I imagine the number of these cases, if any, are too few to make generalizations about.)

An important quality in a parent to me is that they be able to provide a sense of stability for their children. Especially at a young age, I think it's important for children to be able to look to their parents as a foundation on which they can lean. I have my doubts that a person who has begun gender reassignment would be able to provide this stability. Gender reassignment is a volatile process that I can only imagine is fatiguing both mentally and physically.

Raising children on top of it would seem be putting a lot on one's plate. That's not to say that it's impossible, or should never be done, but I imagine that it would be very challenging both to the child and to the parent.

So I guess the question is, whether the chance that this challenge would be too much for an individual to handle and possibly putting a child in a traumatic situation is worth restricting a person's right to do with their body as they see fit.

This of course would be why gender-reassignment clinics have the checks in place that I mention above, such as the letter of recommendation from a clinical psychologist. In cases where a parent is approved for surgery and has passed the other requirements currently needed for approval, then I would go with the doctors' judgment and give them my blessing.

The number of instances where that would happen, I am guessing, will be few and far between, at least until our understanding of transgenderism and transgender issues expands.

former staff member of BME's QOD.

IAM Page: saram

Every single person that undergoes sexual reassignment has a unique and personal reason for doing so. And every single family that might have a transgendered or transsexual parent within it has a unique dynamic and set of relationships. Thus, I think it's ridiculous and inappropriate to make any blanket statements about the ethics of a "sex change" for a parent. It all depends on the particular family and situation.

There are certainly families that can handle it, and others that would collapse. The decision to make the transition is difficult enough for an individual, and to add children into the equation makes it infinitely tougher. It certainly won't be easy for anyone, and there are many things to consider. Will the children understand? Will this cause significant problems in their lives? Perhaps some parents would be content to wait until their children are grown to begin the process, but that won't resolve all of the problems. There will still be a lot of tough questions and long discussions, even with an adult child. And I'm not sure which is worse -- a family working through the transition of a parent, or a family struggling with a parent who is very unhappy with his/her gender. At least the first option has a resolution in sight.

Ultimately, the decisions about this are up to the parent, the family, and the medical professionals (especially mental health professionals) involved in the situation. It may be right, it may be wrong. I don't think there should be any hard rules in this. It's very subjective and dependent on unique circumstances.

mod enthusiast.

IAM Page: CT

Here's a tough question that I'm sure a lot of people will feel differently about. I personally feel that when you choose to have children you make a decision to put that person's life and basic needs (including emotional) before yours until they're an adult. As such, your moral obligation is strongest until that child is able to take care of him or herself and chooses to exercise their right to do so. It's this point that your child typically becomes an "adult" of sorts. This is the grey area that I want to capture - what you consider a child.

Obviously, at the point that a child becomes an adult, the posed question doesn't apply. But if your opinion is that a child is consider a child until they're legally recognized as an adult in the state/country/region that they reside in, then you're not taking into consideration that what truly makes a person an adult is their understanding of consequence and their decision-making abilities based upon that understanding. Some "children" come to this understanding at a very early age while some "adults" don't reach this level until well into their 20's or 30's.

To put it shortly, I think it's ethically wrong to go through a gender transformation if your child is not capable of understanding it, will be confused and emotionally stressed and otherwise adversely affected by it. If your child is extremely young and can't perceive the changes, then there will obviously have no immediate ill affects of going through the sex change. If your "child" is an exceptional 13 year old that you have mature discussion with and can handle the reality of these changes and will be able to endure the obvious ridicule by others (let's face it - children are extremely cruel to other children to say nothing of "adults"!), then there isn't anything wrong with going through the procedure. In fact, a child like that will likely be a more grounded and more accepting human being by going through this experience with you.

I think that by putting an age on anything, you end up excluding people that are more mature than their same-aged counterparts and you also allow those that aren't mature enough for the act that you're restricting to an age. I understand that gauging one's maturity level is extremely objective and not something that you can spend time doing for every situation (such as seeing an R-rated movie). In terms of a parent going through a sex change, I think it's very important to ignore age and address these issues with your children when you feel they've reached a level of maturity that allows you to communicate openly with them and share your feelings, concerns and plans.