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April 03, 2008

Frontiers of plastic surgery

Everyone once in a while, a story emerges that contains the four basic food groups: plastic surgery, male member mutilation, an exotic foreign culture, and pizza. Sadly, however, this story contains only the first three.

I told Soccer Dad (who sent the story to me) that I wasn't going to use it, but I feel I owe a duty to mankind -- or what was at one point in its life mankind -- to spread the word, because obviously I have a wider circulation than Reuters, from which the story originates.

What I mean by "what was at one point in its life mankind" is this: If you're Thai, and were born with male organs, but you're a member of the so-called "third sex," you may well want what is delightfully referred to as "cosmetic castration," especially if you want to appear in the type of transvestite beauty pageant I wrote about nearly three years ago. But the fact that you want it doesn't mean the authorities want you to have it.

Thailand's health chiefs barred hospitals and clinics on Wednesday from castrating would-be "ladyboys" amid growing concern about the operation being seen as a cheap and quick alternative to a full sex-change.
If you don't know much about Thailand, consider this: If Britain is world famous for haute cuisine and dentistry, and France is famous for snails, white flags, and body odor, then surely Thailand must be famous for something. And it is.
The tolerance shown towards the "third sex," as it is often referred to, has led to the country becoming a world leader in sex-change surgery.
Way to go, Thailand! Aim for that gold medal!

The problem with a ban, of course, is that if castration is outlawed, only outlaws will be castrated. Especially because the ban is so hard to enforce. A senior official admitted that "policing the temporary ban might be difficult as cosmetic removal of the testicles was such a quick operation and easy to conduct in secret." Not to mention the inevitable black market in cosmetically removed testicles.

Which is why I'd also advise you not to eat in a Thai restaurant while you're visiting. Mm-mmm!

UPDATE (4/4): After feeling a little doubtful about this on reflection, I did a search this morning. If I'm being punked, then a lot of others are, too.