DOYLESTOWN, Pa. — A transgender woman whose parents went to court Wednesday to block her gender-reassignment surgery in Pennsylvania said she would rather die on the operating table than continue living with male anatomy.
Christine Kitzler, 48, said during a break in the emergency hearing that the risk factors her father raised — including complications from her HIV and Hepatitis C diagnoses — were worth enduring to have her body match the gender she’s identified with since growing up in suburban Cleveland, Ohio.
The surgery, temporarily halted earlier this week by a suburban Philadelphia judge as he considers a longer stay, would also save her from backsliding into alcohol and drug addiction, Kitzler said.
Her parents, Klaus and Ingrid Kitzler, contend Kitzler is not competent to make an informed decision to have the surgery because of depression and a childhood learning disorder, and want a temporary guardian named.
“I might die from this. But it’s worth dying,” Kitzler said. “I would rather die than live the way I was and return to my bad addictions, like alcohol, because I can’t do it and I won’t do it.”
Kitzler’s surgery had been scheduled for Tuesday in Pennsylvania, but Bucks County Judge C. Theodore Fritsch Jr. stopped it after her parents’ lawyers filed for an injunction and asked for time for reflection before she goes through with what they called an irreversible surgery.
Testifying at the hearing, Klaus Kitzler underscored his concern for his daughter’s health. He said he would accept her surgery if an independent psychiatrist deemed her fit to make the decision.
“I accept it, but I want to stop it,” Kitzler told the judge. “I would love to have a son back who goes to church with us on Sunday mornings.”
Christine Kitzler, who lives in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, has already been through 16 months of pre-operative preparation, including a 24-hour fast before Tuesday’s scheduled surgery, and has received clearances from mental health professionals that she is knowingly and willingly undergoing gender reassignment, her doctor said.
Her lawyer, Angela Giampolo, said she had never seen competency invoked to block a gender-reassignment surgery.
“This isn’t a competency hearing. This isn’t a guardianship hearing. It’s a difference of opinion,” the prominent Philadelphia gay-and-transgender-rights lawyer said.
Giampolo said Kitzler’s parents are trying to prevent her from living an authentic life. They said they fear Klaus and Ingrid Kitzler want to bring her back to Ohio, win a court action there and permanently block the surgery.
“They have a daughter. They don’t have a son,” Kitzler said. “I’ll have the parts. I am a woman.”
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