Trans student faces expulsion over gender-affirming surgery

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - NOVEMBER14: A man holds a protest sign in City Creek Park after many submitted their resignations from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in response to a recent change in church policy towards married LGBT same sex couples and their children on November 14, 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah. A little over a week ago the Mormon church made a change in their official handbook of instructions requiring a disciplinary council and possible excommunication for same sex couples and banning the blessing and baptism of their children into the church. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

A transgender student could be expelled from their Mormon-affiliated university if they decide to go ahead with breast augmentation surgery, also known as top surgery.

Kris Irvin attends Brigham Young University, which is owned by the Latter-day Saints Church, and requires students to be endorsed by their bishop to attend.

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Now, upon learning of Irvin’s intention to get top surgery, their bishop is threatening to withdraw his endorsement, which could lead to Irvin being expelled.

Irvin first attended BYU in 2004 but ultimately dropped out, however they decided to return in 2014 after getting married and having a child.

They weren’t aware of the existence of the transgender community until 2015, according to an interview with US News last year.

Irvin previously said they hadn’t experienced any negativity from students at the university, but noted that there are “no guidelines” and “no doctrine”.

“Sometimes you’ll be in a supportive classroom, and sometimes you will not.”

Irvin’s bishop found out about their intention to have top surgery after they set up a GoFundMe to help raise funds for the surgery.

In a letter responding to the bishop’s threat, Irvin asked: “At what point do my breasts determine my level of membership in the church?”

Responding to the letter, Irvin’s bishop said he knows “that no surgery can bring you true peace and comfort in this life.”

Irvin has argued that top surgery does not alter somebody’s sex, and that they have no intention of undergoing gender confirmation surgery.

As well as losing their place at BYU, Irvin could also be restricted from participating in church activities, with excommunication also a possibility.

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Irvin told the Salt Lake City Tribune that they are “really close [to graduating].”

“I’m looking into transferring or trying to finish up as quickly as possible.”

Irvin also said that they hope to remain in the church.

Speaking last year to US News, Irvin said that they had tried “really hard” to be a woman and that it “didn’t work.”

BYU has been at the centre of LGBT+ controversies in the past. A Mormon university professor was fired from the institution in July after she refused to renounce her support for LGBT+ rights.

She had posted on Facebook calling on the church to change its position on homosexuality. Despite the fact that her account was private and that she was not friends with any students on the platform, the university asked her to retract the statement. When she refused, they decided to let her go.