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I’m Not Seeing the Connection

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Trusty old Bill Saletan draws some funky comparisons today in his Human Nature column. After a paragraph about the broadening availability of surgery to repair the harm caused by Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), he gives us this gem:

Brazil will pay for sex-change surgery under its national health system. Fine print: Before the surgery, you have to get a psychological evaluation and approval from a committee of doctors. The policy was prompted by a court ruling that the surgery is a constitutional right. Government’s objection: We don’t have enough money to pay for all these operations. Court’s conclusion: If we don’t subsidize and supervise the surgery, people will do it themselves, and they’ll butcher it. (Related columns: Transsexuality, transhumanism, and self-mutilation.) Question: Is genital mutilation a crime if you don’t want it but a right if you do? Post your answer here.

Maybe it was an innocent question on Saletan’s part (doubtful), but I was incredulous: is he really comparing surgery to repair FGM to surgery that will allow someone to be the sex they feel they are supposed to be? Is he really calling transgender surgery genital mutilation? Sometimes I think that his grip on the nuances of language is rather loose.

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