A transgender operation involves changing the physical sex of a person. It may involve removing a male’s penis and then feminising the male, or vice versa. These operations are often done in adults when an individual feels that they have been born into the wrong body; while they appear to be one sex they feel strongly that they are the other. However, the operation may also be conducted on children. In cases of indeterminate sex or hermaphrodites, the parents of the child would decide which sex the child should be raised as, and sex organs are created accordingly. There are various ethical issues with the operation if conducted at any stage in one’s life.
In the case of children, it is argued that there are serious ethical issues that should be addressed. The case of David Reimer highlights many of these issues and helps explain why they need to be addressed fully. A child does not have the ability to make an informed decision on their gender and the decision is passed to the parents. The parents would be thoroughly briefed before deciding on the gender they wish their child to be changed to, suggesting it is somewhat ethical as parents hold responsibility over the child so have made a informed decision and consent. However, as David Reimer showed, the decision of the parents is not always right and can cause great problems in later life when the child grows up and realises who they are. It is also evident that in some cases parents would be deceived. Money, who organised the surgery on David Reimer, perhaps presented a much more positive and simple picture of what life would be like after the operation so he could make his study successful and thus the parents would not have made an informed decision but a decision based only on what they knew, not all possibilities. Also, throughout this process both parents and child would experience stress, and in the child physical pain after the various operations, which can be argued as going against ethical guidelines as they are not protected from harm. Another problem is the debriefing and aftercare of the child once they may have undergone the operation. In the case of Reimer, Money stopped his yearly check-ups with Reimer when he was nine years old, a time at