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Brazil medical council approves sex changes in public hospitals

September 25, 1997

BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) _ Brazil’s Federal Medical Council approved a resolution allowing sex change operations to be performed in public hospitals, it said Wednesday.

Under the new guidelines, certain patients over the age of 21 who have been in consultation with a team of doctors, including psychotherapists and social workers, for at least two years may be approved for the operation. It will be performed free of charge at university or public hospitals.

Council President Waldir Mesquita said the surgery will benefit those who find psychotherapy or other recommended treatments unhelpful.

The resolution removes a legal obstacle for surgeons who had wanted to perform the operations but could not under guidelines that deemed sex change operations mutilation, a crime punishable by imprisonment.

``With this decision we are saying that transsexuality is not against the law. Today techniques are sufficiently developed to demonstrate that the surgery is not mutilation,″ Mesquita told reporters.

According to the resolution’s author, Dr. Julio Cesar Gomes, the screening of prospective candidates for sex changes will be rigorous and the operations ``will not be performed simply because of a homosexual’s aesthetic considerations.″

The operations will not be conducted in private hospitals because ``we have to perfect the techniques and we want to avoid commercial exploitation,″ said Gomes.

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