A judge cleared the way for a 48-year-old transgender woman to undergo gender-reassignment surgery yesterday, rejecting her parents' effort to block the operation because they say she's mentally incompetent. Christine Kitzler, testifying at an emergency hearing, showed a clear understanding of the three-hour procedure and its risks, Judge C. Theodore Fritsch Jr. said. He dismissed her parents' demand that he appoint a legal guardian and subject her to an independent medical exam. "I'm so happy," Kitzler whispered when the judge ruled. Kitzler's lawyers and a Philadelphia-area surgeon who offered to pay for the surgery are trying to schedule it for this week. The operation had been set for Tuesday before Klaus and Ingrid Kitzler won a temporary injunction.
Christine Kitzler, who lives in Myrtle Beach, SC, said having her body match the gender she has identified with since growing up outside Cleveland, Ohio, would save her from backsliding into alcohol and drug addiction. "It's barbaric to keep me this way," she said. "I can't maintain being a sober man, being happy, because it hasn't happened. It can't happen. I don't have a choice." Her parents argued that a childhood learning disorder and depression had compromised her judgment and that her HIV and hepatitis C diagnoses would make the surgery far riskier. "I would love to have a son back who goes to church with us on Sunday mornings," Klaus Kitzler told the judge, repeatedly referring to Christine, born in 1967 as Christopher Klaus Kitzler, as "he" and "son." "They have a daughter. They don't have a son," Christine said. "I'll have the parts. I am a woman." (Read more gender reassignment surgery stories.)