We suspect that Rep. Rob Sampson may be catching flak after a CT Post article falsely claimed that his proposed bill H.B. 5193 would “strip” or “prohibit” insurance coverage of sex-change operations in Connecticut.

SampsonIn fact, H.B. 5193 states that “health insurance policies delivered, issued for delivery, renewed, amended or continued in this state shall not be required to provide coverage for gender reassignment surgery or related surgical expenses.”  No more, no less.

A member of state health exchange advisory committee made identical claims about elective abortions back in 2012. Jennifer Jaff — who seemed (at least to me) noticeably shaken after I referenced her words in my opposing testimony — was quoted in CT Mirror: “Stripping women of elective abortions is not a tenable option.”  In the very same article, state healthcare advocate Victoria Veltri, who also testified against H.B. 5193, admitted that every private health insurance plan in Connecticut already covered elective abortions.  As we have seen, making that coverage optional did absolutely nothing to stop insurance companies from offering it voluntarily; in fact, Barth Bracy and his family had to sue to have an option that didn’t cover it.

The CT Post piece plays up the idea of conflict, but only gives a small indication of the sensitivity and respect with which Rep. Sampson conducted himself in the public hearing, apparent when watching on CT-N.  His model is commendable.  Neither does the Post quote him on his intent with this bill: as he says, it was not so much to pass anything as to promote healthy debate on a procedure that is far from uncontroversial.

The Post also gives the impression that there was significant turnout against this bill from “the medical community,” but only 20 people testified on H.B. 5193.  Out of those, two were psychologists and one appears to be a surgeon (urological).  The majority were lawyers.  Also testifying were students, Planned Parenthood of Southern New England’s public policy director, and Senator Beth Bye.

[Warning: some links below contain candid descriptions. They are informative reads, but not for the kids or the office.]

Conspicuously missing from testimony was the firsthand perspective of anyone who feels sex change surgery was a terrible mistake. That isn’t too surprising considering that an important piece in The Federalist drew attention to the way regretters are aggressively suppressed within the supposedly tolerant trans community.  These individuals — who have my utmost sympathy, as do all who have difficulty reconciling themselves with their bodies — are a living witness that no amount of surgical alteration can turn a biological man into a biological woman or vice-versa. As one regretter in Australia put it, poignantly: “I’ve never been a woman, just Alan.”

I was stunned to find on one support site a detailed literature review from 1980 which, while not arguing against sex change surgery per se, contains bombshell statements like these:

  • “The results suggested moderate postsurgical social and sexual gains accompanied by marked depression and psychological confusion. However, all patients reported being subjectively satisfied with the surgery.”
  • “While the patients reported gains in sexual satisfaction, family acceptance, economic functioning, and interpersonal relationships, there were no changes in the incidence of psychopathology. Although none of the patients regretted having the initial surgery, 24% still felt a ‘driven need for further surgical procedures.'”
  • “The studies of the 1970s and early 1980s challenged the idea that sex reassignment surgery was a cure for transsexualism. While prior findings that sex reassignment surgery leads to better socioeconomic functioning for some patients were given additional support, gender dysphoric patients were characterized as having severe psychopathology that was unaltered by sex reassignment surgery.”
  • ” For example, those clinicians who used global ratings found a positive change rate of 68%-86% in the patients’ overall social-emotional functioning. On the other hand, those who used more discriminative evaluation criteria (focusing on psychological variables) not only failed to replicate these success rates but occasionally reported negative outcome”
  • “Perhaps the early postsurgery studies failed to report on psychological dysfunction because the evaluators, who were physicians and surgeons, lacked clinical psychiatric expertise”
  • “As clinicians learn new ways to diagnose and treat transsexualism, either sex reassignment surgery will be abandoned as a routine treatment modality (reserved for only a few select patients) or new predictive variables for choosing suitable patients for sex reassignment surgery will be established.”

How did we get from that prediction to today, when merely allowing insurance companies to decide whether they will or will not cover these surgeries is considered, by some, a civil rights violation?  The full answer to that will require more research on my part (and perhaps a follow-up post).  That said, I doubt that it is because the problems cited have gone away.  Consider the case of Nancy/Nathan Verhelst, who was euthanized in Belgium after surgery failed to live up to expectations.  Like abortion, again, if there is money to be made I would expect the distress and vulnerability of such people to attract unscrupulous surgeons and outright frauds.  Do you know that sex change surgery has its own Gosnell?  Most people have probably never heard of John Roland Brown, a.k.a. ‘Butcher Brown,’ who had a bustling black-market surgery business even after losing his license, performing not only sex change operations but apparently limb amputations as well, in horrendous conditions.  Trans activist Dallas Denny deserves credit for helping to expose Brown from within, unlike Gosnell who was shielded by his industry.  Still, Denny writes: “Yet for all that, the administrative judge who revoked his license apparently did so reluctantly…claiming Brown appeared to be “a pioneer” who made “innovative contributions” to the emerging field of transsexual surgery.”

So much for my being able to keep this post brief.  I will just conclude by saying that if you are grateful to Rep. Sampson for raising this issue, send him a message to let him know.