Journalist Julie Bindel attempted to win over an audience of doctors and transsexuals in a Radio 4 programme airing tonight by arguing that sex-change surgery is aversion therapy for gay and lesbian people.
In the Radio 4 debate show, Guardian columnist and feminist campaigner Ms Bindel will argue that ‘being trapped in the wrong body’ is a homophobic diagnosis created in the 1950’s, and that gender re-assignment surgery is unnecessary mutilation.
“The highest number of sex change operations take place in Iran, where homosexuality is punishable by death,” she argued during the pre-recorded debate.
“Sex change surgery, therefore, renders gays and lesbians ‘heterosexual’.”
Ms Bindel debated with human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, Stephen Whittle, a world expert on transsexualism and the law who had reassignment surgery nearly 30 years ago, clinician Kevan Whylie, a consultant in sexual medicine and psychotherapist and transsexual Michelle Bridgman.
The debate was held at Royal Society of Medicine in London.
Ms Bindel said that there is little medical research into the diagnosis of transsexualism, the process of reassignment surgery or the outcomes, and pointed to examples of people unhappy with the result.
“I should never have had sex change surgery,” says Claudia MacLean during the debate.
“As a result of the surgery, I am incapable of sex and I have lived a life apart.”
Ms MacLean claims she was referred for surgery after a single 45 minute consultation, and never told the psychiatrist that she felt like a woman.
“Feminists want to rid the world of gender rules and regulations, so how is it possible to support a theory which has at its centre the notion that there is something essential and biological about the way boys and girls behave?” Bindel writes in The Guardian.
“As someone who spurned dolls and make-up as a child, I find it deeply troubling that, had I gone to one of the specialist psychiatrists while growing up and explained how I did not feel like a ‘real girl’ (which I did not, because I wanted to be a lesbian), I could be writing this as a trans man.”
Hecklers airs on Radio 4 at 8.00pm tonight, and will be repeated at 10.15pm on Saturday.