United States Citizens should not be allowed to undergo gender-transformation surgery
Debate Rounds (3)
Gender transformation therapies, like many other civil-rights-related issues, have come under political controversy over whether they should be allowed. Practically everybody has his own opinion on the subject. In this debate, I shall demonstrate that, yes, these therapies ought to be allowed; in order to do so, I will prove that the benefits of allowing them outweighs the costs and risks.
I will do so with two arguments: that the aforementioned therapies are psychologically beneficial to patients, and that even if these therapies were harmful, banning them would do more harm than good.
Before I begin my own arguments, however, I would like to address some of my opponent’s points. There were two main points in his argument: that transgenderism does not exist, and that the “victims” of medical interventions used to change people’s bodies to fit their minds are harmed by the therapies they receive.
Pro stated that one is born as a man or a woman, and that no surgical interventions can change that. However, medical research states that one can sometimes be born with a brain that doesn’t completely match one’s body. For instance, a biological male who identifies as a female might have a brain that resembles a female brain in some ways.  This can cause transgender people to feel like they are controlling the wrong body.  As such, the notion that transgenderism itself is a fraud seems not to be based on actual fact.
Pro has also stated that gender transformation therapies increase suicides and damaging psychological tendencies, and cited LiveScience, a science news journal. However, that source appears to completely contradict Pro’s claims. The source quoted medical professor Gail Knudsen, who stated that gender transformation therapies actually cause a "significant decrease in substance abuse problems and depression” among transgender individuals, and the journal attributes suicides not to the therapy, but rather to discrimination and social stigma.  This was an egregious misrepresentation of the source by Pro.
Benefits to patients
Carrying out medical procedures that help people improve their lives more than they harm them is one of the major purposes of the medical and pharmaceutical industry. It is necessary that these procedures are not blocked by authorities, as doing so would stop doctors from doing their jobs. As such, if I demonstrated that the therapy was effective in making patients feel better about themselves without too much harm, I would demonstrate that the therapy ought to be permitted.
Through a study from Sweden, we can see that gender reassignment procedures improve the lives of those receiving them; the majority of participants in the study functioned better than before they received treatment.  The APA endorses the therapy for gender-dysphoric people.  For transgender people, the treatment can make their bodies feel more like their own; it allows them to change their bodies to fit their brains. This demonstrates that the therapy ought to be allowed; doing otherwise would hinder doctors and psychiatrists from helping their clients.
Even if it were harmful, we still ought to allow them
Many, if not all, legally permitted medical procedures have their harms. The general procedure in the medical community for potentially risky medical procedures is informed consent, in which patients are informed about the risks of procedures that they would take and then decide to consent to doing them. Convention dictates that even if gender reassignment therapy were risky, it should still be allowed on a case-by-case basis with informed consent, with the patient and the doctor discussing about whether the therapy is a proper choice. Otherwise, consistency would dictate that practically every medical procedure needs to be banned: every procedure, from chemotherapy to brain surgeries, has its risks.
Let’s assume that gender reassignment therapy is harmful. In the status quo, patients seeking the therapy are able to go to regulated practitioners and receive it in a system that is under governmental scrutiny; this significantly reduces any risks that may be incurred from it. Patients usually receive psychological counselling to ensure that the procedure is right for them.
Under pro’s proposal, the therapy would be banned, but there would still be demand for it; patients may choose to receive the therapy overseas or in shady back-alleys, without any governmental scrutiny over safety, entailing all kinds of risks. Worse yet, a patient may decide to take the therapy when he has no actual gender dysphoria, and this would not be stopped by psychological counselling, as without safety regulations, there would be none.
In this debate, I have demonstrated that gender reassignment therapies are a benefit to patients, and that banning them would entail a whole host of risks. I have also adequately addressed all of my opponent’s points, one of which, as I have revealed, was based on a misrepresentation of a source. As such, I urge you to vote for me, as although both sides have presented well-thought out arguments, I have clearly on the high ground in terms of accuracy and logic. Thank you.
Thank you for accepting this debate Leugen9001! I greatly appreciate you being a true debater with vivid arguments which allows for a greater debate altogether. Please note the underlined, bolded, and italicized words as major points. My constructive consists of rebuttals to con’s points and new points which further my cause. Thank you everyone who is taking the time to read this debate and please, vote fairly. That being said, let’s get on with the debate!
“There were two main points in his argument: that transgenderism does not exist, and that the “victims” of medical interventions used to change people’s bodies to fit their minds are harmed by the therapies they receive.”
My opponent appears to be mistaken with my original argument. I never claimed that transgenderism does not exist. In my last sentence of round one, I sympathized with people who struggle with gender-identity issues. Transgenderism does exist and it is a serious mental condition that must be treated. I did claim that the surgery to “swap sexes” is not genuine and is a lie, however I am not claiming that transgenderism does not exist. I also never stated that the victims of medical interventions did so to fit their minds. I took no stance as to why they did so and I have no interest in saying specifics as to why they do so, only in proving that surgery is not the answer to their problem.
“As such, if I demonstrated that the therapy was effective in making patients feel better about themselves without too much harm, I would demonstrate that the therapy ought to be permitted. “…Through a study from Sweden, we can see that gender reassignment procedures improve the lives of those receiving them”
I would like to stress my opponent’s words; “Without too much harm”. In certain cases, yes, transgender reassignment does improve the lives of the afflicted. However, a long term study of 324 sex-reassigned persons in 2003 in Sweden concluded: “Persons with transsexualism, after sex reassignment, have considerably higher risks for mortality, suicidal behavior, and psychiatric morbidity than the general population. The findings suggest that sex reassignment, although alleviating gender dysphoria, may not suffice as treatment for transsexualism”. It is clearly demonstrated that this form of “therapy” is not always successful and it causes harm, enough harm that it cannot be classified as “not much harm”. Therefore, the con’s rebuttal is null and void.
“In the status quo, patients seeking the therapy are able to go to regulated practitioners and receive it in a system that is under governmental scrutiny; this significantly reduces any risks that may be incurred from it.”
Just because it is overseen by the government does not mean that the risk goes down. The Government cannot protect from conditions that may result because of the surgery. If a person sues for malpractice, he or she sues the doctor who did the surgery primarily, and if they can, they want to include the hospital. Since the doctor is not an employee of the government, you cannot say that the government will protect you and the risk will go down. It is the doctor’s fault for the surgery, not the government. Because of this, the government will not play such an adamant role in ensuring the patient’s long-term quality of living
“Under pro’s proposal, the therapy would be banned, but there would still be demand for it; patients may choose to receive the therapy overseas or in shady back-alleys, without any governmental scrutiny over safety, entailing all kinds of risks.”
On the contrary, I am arguing that the only therapy to be banned is the actual surgery, and not other forms of therapy. I am actually arguing that counseling is a much better alternative than a surgery. It is stated in the topic headline that I am arguing against SURGERY, not other forms of therapy. Also, why would people go to “shady back-alleys” for a surgery that you claim they know the risks for? I know I would not go to a back ally, and pay a person to cut my genetalia off and trust him not to do anything else with my body. I don’t care how desperate you are, people nowadays have a little common sense.
1. Therapy is a better option, not sex-change
Counseling and other forms of treatment are less expensive than surgery and in some cases, can be more effective than a sex-change because it is responding to the mental issue. Getting a surgery to cover it up treats this as a physical disability that can be fixed with a few knife cuts. Also,Gender-changing surgery can cost 5,000-15,000$. This is all out-of-pocket money, since most insurances don’t cover such a dramatic surgery. The parents should not have to pay for the mutilation of their child. Many Catholic institutions claim that this surgery is a form of mutilation because it does not offer a complete gender change. Let me remind the audience that this surgery does NOT change the sex of an individual biologically, if it did, there wouldn’t be an issue. Instead, the surgeons remove parts of the body unique to one sex and make replacements to put back. The doctors cannot however, make fully functioning genetalia or switch male hormones with female hormones, making one truly male or female.
2. Switching one’s gender is a mistake
You may be allowed to alter a piece of paper (birth certificate) as a result of it, but people cannot legally become the opposite sex for all purposes. Also, the person cannot become biologically the other sex, so what is the point? Even if it is therapeutical, I have proven that there are better forms of therapy and coping mechanisms. Genital restructure will not change identity much. People can change almost every document to their chosen identity, which includes gender-identity, without having to have any medical alterations. Some people want genital restructure because they thought it would make them more of a women or male, however “identity is who we think we are, how we interact with other people, and what they think of us as a result of this interaction. Most of the time during social interaction, you will not involve what's between your legs."  Transgender people can and usually do live normal lives without this type of surgery, and have lasting relationships because of it, and their quality of life is usually better than people who underwent this type of surgery.
I have demonstrated that gender-reassignment surgery is a false hope for all of those who struggle with gender-identity crises. The Con’s main point was that it acts as a sort of therapy or coping mechanism, however, spending 5,000-15,000$ on a coping mechanism is not a good way to rid one of a condition. It may work some of the time, but unless it is 100% safe, 100% effective, and achieves the goal of the patient, we can look to better alternatives, such as counseling. Surgery does not change the sex of a person, it is not entirely safe, and it does not change the fundamental, mental, problem, it is only a physical cover-up for a mental disability. Counseling would be much more effective since it is a form of mental help for a mental problem.
Direct note to competitor: “I have clearly on the high ground in terms of accuracy and logic.” Leave the gloating until the end please! (and if you really have the high ground, then consider your sentence structure. You can’t “have clearly on the high ground”)
A well-functioning society will never deny theraputic care to those who need it; otherwise, patients can be left in pain, sometimes both physiologically and psychologically. My opponent’s proposal to ban gender reassignment surgery is going to do just that; under his proposal, transgender people will no longer be able to acquire the necessary medical care for them to become more productive and to live better lives. As such, I am proud to, as con, argue against the motion that the United States should disallow gender-transformation surgery.
Today I will bring forth another constructive point: that there are, in some cases, no suitable alternatives to surgery, justifying its use. Before that, however, I shall address some of my opponent’s points, and reconstruct my own case.
My opponent’s first argument was that counselling was a more effective and safer alternative to gender transformation surgery, as it responds to the “ serious mental condition” of transgenderism that “must be treated”. However, counselling cannot be used alone in lieu of gender transformation procedures for “treating” transgenderism, as it has been shown that it’s pretty much impossible to “treat” the “disorder” through psychotherapy.  Since changing one’s mind to fit one’s body has proven ineffective, medical authorities instead support changing one’s body to fit one’s mind. Attempting to “erase” transgenderism from a person can even be damaging to self esteem, as it tells him that he is "ill". As Pro has not provided an adequate alternative to gender transformation surgery, he has also provided no adequate reason to ban it.
My opponent has also made the utterly irrelevant point that the sex of an individual cannot be changed through surgery, as that does not make the surgery any more harmful. He has also stated that doctors cannot switch male and female hormones—again completely wrong. Sexual reassignment therapy often involves both hormonal replacement and surgery. 
My opponent’s second argument was difficult to summarise as a single argument, so I am going to quote it completely below:
Also, the person cannot become biologically the other sex, so what is the point? Even if it is therapeutical, I have proven that there are better forms of therapy and coping mechanisms.
Pro has argued that if somebody cannot physically become the other sex, and there are other forms of therapy, there is no point to having surgery. His argument relies on the idea that counselling is an adequate substitution for surgery, when it alone cannot magically “cure” anyone of his transgenderism. My argument above proves him wrong.
Genital restructuring will not change identity much. People can change almost every document to their chosen identity, which includes gender-identity, without having to have any medical alterations. Some people want genital restructure because they thought it would make them more of a women or male, however “identity is who we think we are, how we interact with other people, and what they think of us as a result of this interaction. Most of the time during social interaction, you will not involve what's between your legs."  Transgender people can and usually do live normal lives without this type of surgery, and have lasting relationships because of it, and their quality of life is usually better than people who underwent this type of surgery.
Gender changing surgery was never intended to change one’s identity in the first place, so Pro’s argument seems to be a red herring.
Responding to my first point, pro argued that gender transformation surgery was too unsafe to be allowed. He cited a Swedish study which concluded that surgery may cause an increase in suicides. However, he conveniently ignored the fact that the study did not compare transgender individuals without surgery to those who did receive surgery; instead, the study compared transgender individuals with surgery to non-transgender people, and therefore did not have a really adequate control group. 
….In other words, the results should not be interpreted such as sex reassignment per seincreases morbidity and mortality. Things might have been even worse without sex reassignment. As an analogy, similar studies have found increased somatic morbidity, suicide rate, and overall mortality for patients treated for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. This is important information, but it does not follow that mood stabilizing treatment or antipsychotic treatment is the culprit….
The study did not actually prove that surgery made transgender people more likely to commit suicide, and it didn’t even prove a correlation, as it compared incomparable groups. It could be that all transgender people, not just those who have gotten a sex change surgery, have high suicide rates. Its flawed comparisons demonstrate neither a correlation nor a causation.
By reading more than just the summary, we can see that the only reasonable conclusion one can draw from the study is that surgery will not magically fix someone’s brain, but can still make one’s life better when used in conjunction with other forms of therapy. It only suggests that the surgery can be used as a tool despite the risks inherent in any big medical treatment.
By ignoring anything past the abstract of the study, my opponent again egregiously misrepresented a source.
Responding to my second point, pro said this: On the contrary, I am arguing that the only therapy to be banned is the actual surgery, and not other forms of therapy. I am actually arguing that counseling is a much better alternative than a surgery. It is stated in the topic headline that I am arguing against SURGERY, not other forms of therapy. Also, why would people go to “shady back-alleys” for a surgery that you claim they know the risks for? I know I would not go to a back ally, and pay a person to cut my genetalia off and trust him not to do anything else with my body. I don’t care how desperate you are, people nowadays have a little common sense.
As said before, counselling is not an adequate replacement for surgery on its own.
My shady back alleys point was an exaggeration used to demonstrate that people will still seek the treatment if they seriously wanted to, perhaps from underground clinics. This has already happened with conversion therapy, a variant of which my opponent seems to endorse; despite generally being illegal and unethical, parents still sometimes send their LGBT children away to illegal practitionersso that they could be “cured”.
Pro has also practically conceded that even if the surgery were to take place in back alleys, people would still pay for it, as “people nowadays have little common sense.”
Why Surgery is sometimes justified
Every medical intervention can have its risks. As such, doctors prescribe them only in specific circumstances. Here, I shall prove that surgery is indeed sometimes justified.
In some cases, a transgender person can become so uncomfortable with his bodily organs that it interferes with his life. A transgender man described his breasts as feeling akin to “alien jellyfish” sucking on his chest. Transgender people sometimes can become so disgusted with their genitals that they do everything they can to stop seeing them.  No matter how much counselling is given to somebody, his breasts will still feel like alien jellyfish. As such, in this situation, surgery is definitely justified. Suicides that do occur can be curbed by using counselling in addition to, rather than in place of surgery. Therefore, I have shown that surgery’s benefits sometimes outweigh its risks, and that therefore it should be allowed.
While both sides raised persuasive points, I believe that I have proven my case the best. I have demonstrated that there is not a real reason to believe in an increase in suicides caused by the surgery, and that the surgery sometimes aids more than it harms. As such, I have fully met my burden to prove that it ought to be allowed.
Sources in comments
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