Belgium: Transgender Man Chose Euthanasia After Botched Surgery

Oct 2, 2013
Legal
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A Belgian transgender man has chosen to die by euthanasia after a botched gender reassignment operation to complete his transformation into a man left him a ‘monster.’

Nathan Verhelst, 44, died yesterday afternoon after being allowed have his life ended on the grounds of ‘unbearable psychological suffering.’

It is understood to be the first time someone in Belgium has chosen euthanasia after transitioning, and comes soon after it emerged that euthanasia is now the cause of nearly one in 50 deaths in the country.

Mr Verhelst died after a lethal injection administered by the same doctor who last year ended the lives of congenitally deaf twins who were also going blind.

Born a girl named Nancy, Verhelst’s transformation into a man began with hormone therapy in 2009, followed by a mastectomy and finally an operation to construct a penis last year.

Nathan Verhelst, 44, chose to die via euthanasia after botched surgery.

Nathan Verhelst, 44, chose to die via euthanasia after botched surgery.

But the procedures did not go according to plan.

In the hours before his death he told Belgium’s Het Laatse Nieuws:  ‘I was ready to celebrate my new birth. But when I looked in the mirror, I was disgusted with myself.

‘My new breasts did not match my expectations and my new penis had symptoms of rejection. I do not want to be… a monster.’

His family learned of his decision this morning via a farewell letter.

Mr Verhelst’s decision comes amid a fierce debate over euthanasia in Belgium, where the number of deaths due to the controversial practice soared by 25 per cent last year.’

Official figures showed the numbers opting to end their lives leap from 1,133 in 2011 to 1,432 in 2012, a figure representing about two per cent of all deaths in the country.

Euthanasia is legal under Belgian law if those making the decision can make their wishes clear and are suffering unbearable pain, according to a doctor’s judgment.

The Belgian law differs from that of Switzerland, famous for its Dignitas clinic, where only ‘assisted suicide’ is permitted.

This means patients must play an active role in the administration of the drug that ends their lives.

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