Belgian elects to be euthanized after failed sex-change surgery


A 44-year-old Belgian in distress after a failed sex change was euthanized this week after doctors agreed to the mercy-killing on psychological grounds, national media said Tuesday.

Nathan Verhelst died Monday in a Brussels hospital surrounded by friends after requesting assistance to die in a case that has been highly publicized in Belgium, which became only the second country in the world after the Netherlands to legalize euthanasia in 2002.

Dr. Wim Distlemans told the daily Het Laatste Nieuws that Verhelst won permission to be euthanized because “we could clearly say he was in unbearable psychological distress.”

Nathan was born as Nancy into a family of three boys where he was rejected by parents who wanted another son, he told the newspaper on the eve of his death. He underwent three sex-change operations between 2009 and 2012 but felt uncomfortable with his body, saying he still had breasts and that his penis was “a failure.”

“The first time I saw myself in the mirror I felt an aversion for my new body,” he said. “I had happy moments but in the end the balance tipped to the wrong side.”

Jacqueline Herremans, a member of the national euthanasia committee, told RTL television that he had been examined by two doctors, including a psychiatrist, to make sure he was not suffering from temporary depression. Belgium recorded a record 1,432 cases of euthanasia in 2012, up 25 percent from the previous year.