A judge in Pennsylvania gave the green light Wednesday for a 48-year-old to undergo gender-reassignment surgery after the transgender woman’s parents stepped in to try to stop it.
Judge C. Theodore Fritsch Jr. dismissed Klaus and Ingrid Kitzler’s request for the court to appoint a legal guardian and submit Christine Kitzler to an independent medical exam, The Associated Press reports.
Christine, who was born Christopher but identifies as female, lives in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and has been working with a Philadelphia-area surgeon in preparation for her surgery.
She was expected to go through with the procedure Tuesday until her parents drove from their home in Ohio to try and stop it.
They won a temporary injunction, but the surgeon was expected to perform the procedure Wednesday night after the judge ruled against the parents.
“The procedure is barbaric and they want to do it tonight,” Christine’s father, Klaus, said after the ruling, according to the AP. “Why the rush? They should be ashamed of themselves.”
The parents argued that Christine was not mentally competent to consent to the surgery.
Court papers they filed in the case said Christine suffers from mild retardation, suicidal thoughts and other medical conditions that would make the surgery too risky, KYW News reports.
The parents’ attorney, Julia Morrow, told the judge that Christine was likely too easily swayed by the surgeon’s wishes and pointed out that she had a history of making bad decisions like allowing marijuana to be grown in her home during college.
Christine acknowledged a history of depression as well as a period of drug and alcohol abuse, but, she said, she was making the decision about the surgery with a clear mind.
“It's barbaric to keep me this way, not to take this risk,” Christine told the AP. “Then I suffer and I go back to drinking and that's barbaric. 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.”
Testifying in court, Klaus said he was primarily concerned about his child’s health and would drop his opposition to the surgery if an independent psychiatrist deemed her fit to decide on her own.
“I accept it, but I want to stop it,” Klaus told the judge. “I would love to have a son back who goes to church with us on Sunday mornings.”
The father reportedly used male-gender pronouns and referred to Christine as “his son” while talking on the stand. The judge asked him at one point to switch to female or gender-neutral pronouns and Klaus then reportedly switched to referring to Christine as “that person.”
Angela Giampolo, a Philadelphia gay and transgender rights advocate and attorney, represented Christine in court. She said she understood how important the surgery was to Christine.
“Transgender individuals who are denied medical care commit suicide at a rate of 60 percent if they are denied their surgery,” Giampolo told KYW.
The judge said that while recognizing a history of depression, Christine had testified to being sober for three years and demonstrated an ability to understand her own decisions.
Christine had earned a liberal arts degree from Ohio University, and she noted that she had identified as female as early as her teenage years. She even dressed as a woman in college and called herself "Chrissy" on her college diploma.
Christine said after the ruling that she was pleased with the judge’s decision and ready to go ahead with the Wednesday night surgery.
“I might for die,” she told KYW. “But it’s worth dying. I would rather die than live the way I was.”
Her parents, she said, have had a daughter for a long time, they just haven’t recognized it.
“They don’t have a son, they have a daughter and now I’ll have the parts too,” she said.