This comes after a strict audit as Huaxi Hospital submitted the application after the barrier for qualification was raised. Fewer than ten hospitals nationwide were granted the approval, which Huaxi received on 27 May, according to Cen Ying, the Head of Department for Aesthetic Reconstruction for Burns at the hospital.
Due to disorder and confusion surrounding sex-change operations, the Health Ministry called for a halt of such surgeries throughout China in 2009. Last year, the ministry began to standardize the management of 17 clinical procedures. The ministry allowed Grade 3 and higher general hospitals to apply for the certification to offer sex-change operations. A panel of experts from the fields of law, psychology, ethics, aesthetic surgery, urology, endocrinology, obstetrics, and gynecology among others was sent to the hospital to conduct the audit.
Women pay double
Female-to-male sex-reassignment surgery costs RMB100,000, which is twice as much as the male-to-female version, due to the complexity involved in removing the ovaries, breasts, and other reproductive parts, as well as the construction of the penis. The installation of the "erection device" costs RMB100,000.
High dropout rate post-consultation
Local media reported that numerous patients who had been considering the procedure were deterred after consultation with doctors, in which the risks were discussed.
For women, it means the permanent loss of fertility. Cen stressed that sex change ops are merely capable of changing appearances and fulfilling psychological needs.
The reporter also spoke to the Vice Chairperson of the Sichuan Province Aesthetic Surgery Committee, Guo Xiaojing, about his experience with patients who had undergone the procedure during his 23-year career as an aesthetic surgeon.
Guo has successfully conducted three such surgeries since 1990. He said his first patient was a formerly male singer from Guangzhou who advanced in both career and personal development after the procedure.
While Guo kept in touch with the Guangzhou patient for a while, his other two patients, both from Sichuan, 'virtually disappeared'.
"The gender switch involves your privacy and results in personality change, at the same time changing social roles and relationships. It offers a 'second life' which patients have envisioned for themselves," Guo explained.
Those who wish to apply for the procedure must be above 25 years of age and present a statement of proof from the local committee that assures that the sex change would last for two years officially. Evidence issued by the Public Security Bureau to prove that the patient is not a fugitive and has no criminal record is also required.
In addition, a psychological assessment of the patient from a psychiatrist is needed, to prove his or her sexual orientation and that the patient is psychologically sound without 'perverted tendencies'.
After the surgery, the person involved is required to change his or her particulars with the PSB, with an application form, a document of proof from a hospital which is at least of county-level, as well as other personal-identification documents.