Temporarily Bans Castration Done for Nonmedical Reasons

Thailand's Health
Ministry ordered hospitals and medical clinics to
temporarily stop performing castrations for nonmedical
reasons, saying Wednesday that the procedure performed
on transsexuals needs stricter monitoring.

The move came
after a leading gay activist, Natee Teerarojjanapongs,
called on the Medical Council of Thailand to take action
against clinics that perform castrations on underage
boys, who seek them in part because of Internet
advertisements that promise cheap operations resulting
in feminine qualities such as softer skin.

Natee, head of
the Gay Political Group of Thailand, said he received
several complaints from these underage boys' parents.

Suphan said he
did not have official statistics on the numbers of
castrations performed in Thailand, but said many underage
patients were unaware of the risks it posed, including
hormonal imbalances and stunted physical development.

A letter will be
sent to medical facilities around the country telling
them to halt so-called commercial castrations until further
notice, he said. Violators could face closure of their

''As of today,
doctors can perform the surgery if there is a medical
reason to do so -- not for any other reason,'' ministry
spokesman Suphan Srithamma said.

The ministry and
the Medical Council will draft new guidelines that
doctors must follow before carrying out the procedure,
Suphan said.

Existing rules
require boys under age 18 to have parental consent before
undergoing castration, but it is suspected that many doctors
overlook the rule, Suphan said.

''It's a totally
wrong perception that castration will make boys more
feminine,'' Natee told The Bangkok Post last week.
''These youngsters should wait until they are mature
enough to thoroughly consider the pros and cons of
such an operation.''

Dr. Thep
Vechavisit, owner of the Pratunam Polyclinic in Bangkok,
which specializes in sex-reassignment surgery, said
the surgery was a better option than taking excessive
female hormones, which can cause liver damage. Many
young male transsexuals take hormones, he said.

His clinic
charges $125 for nonmedical castrations and has performed
205, mostly for Thais, since first offering the
service in 2004, he said.

''There's nothing
wrong with this procedure,'' Thep said. (AP)

Tags: Health, Health

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