Meet the world's youngest transsexual

After years of hormone therapy, 16-year-old Kim Petras has had a sex change.

Published February 5, 2009 10:00PM (EST)

How's this for a "Super Sweet 16": After insisting on being called a girl since childhood and starting hormone replacement therapy at age 12, Kim Petras has reportedly become the world's youngest transsexual. Now that's a coming-of-age celebration MTV should showcase. Ma, keep the blinged-out BMW and sellout rap star, I want a sex change!

The 16-year-old, who also happens to be a German pop star, had the sex change operation in November after two psychiatrists approved it. "Everything has changed because of this operation," says Petras. "I just can't wait to put on my favorite bathing suit and go swimming like I've never done before."

Of course, it's inevitable that some will rain on her party. Even just allowing transgender kids to wear sex inappropriate clothing is controversial -- let alone hormone replacement therapy and a complete sex change. As I wrote a couple of months back, some doctors believe that most boys who appear to be transgender are actually just gay, and that it's dangerous to move too quickly toward a sex change that may later be regretted; others argue that gender dysphoria is a result of "family noise" and can be cured through behavioral therapy. (Much like homosexuals were once thought to be in need of a cure.) 

But, for someone who believes they were born in the wrong body, being forced to go through puberty can be traumatizing. As Dr. Achim Wuesthof, who treated Petras, told the Daily Mail: "Imagine a man that suddenly starts growing breasts or a woman that starts growing a beard against their will -- that is how Kim and people like her experience puberty." Once puberty has set in, it's much more difficult to transition and "pass." 

Here's hoping Petras is ready for the scrutiny to come: As the youngest person to have a sex change, the world will be watching her as she grows up -- some in hopes of validating early operations, others with a mind toward prohibiting them.

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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