FIRST-PERSON: Nutty Berkeley strikes again

Baptist Press
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Posted: Jan 21, 2011 4:30 PM
FIRST-PERSON: Nutty Berkeley strikes again
ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)--Currently in Western culture, whenever there is a disagreement between a person's mind and his or her body, we are told by "experts" that psychology must trump physiology. This is especially true, but not limited to, sexuality and gender.

If a person believes that he or she was born the wrong sex -- in the wrong body, "experts" say we must accept the individual's psychological self-determination. In other words, no matter how male an individual's body may be, if the person believes "he" should have been born a "she" then he (or is it she?), is correct. The person's mind, what he thinks about himself, trumps his body.

The "mind trumps body" phenomenon is accepted by many in the medical community. There are physicians who will accommodate a person who believes he or she has been born the wrong sex by providing sex-reassignment surgery. In other words, they seek to reshape the body so it will more closely align with a person's mind.

We can debate whether or not sex-reassignment surgery will help a person who believes he or she was born in the wrong body feel better psychologically. However, there is no debate as to whether or not sex-change surgery is medically necessary -- it is not. At best, it is elective surgery akin to a nose job or face lift.

In a world characterized by radical autonomy and "mind trumps body" thinking there will be individuals who will avail themselves of surgery to alter their bodies in the search for psychological solace.

Most health insurance companies do not cover sex-change procedures because, as stated previously, they are not a medical necessity. The cost for sex-reassignment varies, but it can cost in the tens of thousands of dollars.

One west coast community not only embraces the "mind trumps body" concept as it applies to sexuality and gender, it endorses it. The city of Berkeley, Calif., is seriously considering offering its employees $20,000 annually to help them obtain a sex-change operation.

Berkeley officials initially asked its two insurance providers to offer coverage that would include sex-reassignment surgery, The San Francisco Chronicle reported on its website. However, one provider didn't offer the coverage. The company that does provide the coverage indicated that to include sex-change operations in the policy would result in a substantial increase in premiums for all employees, The Chronicle reported.

As a result of the cost implications of the insurance, Berkeley city officials decided to set aside $20,000 annually for the surgery. The money would be available on a first-come, first-served basis, the Chronicle reported. The vote on the measure was to have taken place on Jan. 18, but the city has tabled the issue until February so wording of the proposed policy can be refined.

Since the city is set to offer its "transgender" employees money toward sex-change operations, I wonder if they will consider providing a similar benefit to any employee that is identified as having Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID)?

Those who suffer from BIID have a powerful compulsion to become amputees. As a result, they seek to cut off otherwise healthy limbs in order to achieve in their body their minds' desire.

"People suffering from body integrity identity disorder report that a particular limb does not belong to them, and that they feel 'over complete' and want to have the alien limb amputated," is how a 2009 issue of The American Journal of Bioethics explained BIID.

In our current cultural climate, the "mind trumps the body;" who can say that those with BIID are wrong or mentally ill? After all, the "experts" tell us psychology reigns supreme over physiology.

The Journal of Applied Philosophy addressed the issue BIID in its March 2005 issue in an article titled, "Amputees By Choice: Body Integrity Identity Disorder and the Ethics of Amputation." In it the authors wrote:

"Should surgeons be permitted to amputate healthy limbs if patients request such operations? We argue that if such patients are experiencing significant distress as a consequence of the rare psychological disorder named Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID), such operations might be permissible."

The authors of the journal believe that in respect to BIID, just as in the condition known as transgender disorder, the mind should be allowed to trump the body. If a person psychologically wants to be an amputee, then by all means they should be allowed to modify their physiology -- even if the individual's limbs are healthy.

Newsweek published an article in 2008 on BIID titled "Cutting Desire." The newsmagazine wrote, "Surgeons who perform voluntary amputations today are understandably underground. Alex, a 60-year-old BIID sufferer, learned about a surgeon willing to amputate his leg five years ago and 'jumped right on it,' flying to Asia and paying $10,000 to have the limb removed."

Those who believe they have been born the wrong sex or desire to be amputees need psychological help. They need significant counseling and much prayer. However, they do not need "experts" or city governments to endorse their abnormal psychology. And they certainly do not need unscrupulous surgeons willing to mutilate their bodies for a price.

Berkeley's action is government irresponsibility on parade.

Kelly Boggs is a weekly columnist for Baptist Press and editor of the Baptist Message (www.baptistmessage.com), newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.

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