Trans teen ‘attempts self-mastectomy’ while waiting for surgery in ‘act of desperation’

The back of a person looking out a window.

A trans teenager attempted a self-mastectomy after reaching breaking point over the waiting times for surgery in New Zealand.

National news outlets in New Zealand reported that the 18-year-old trans masc individual was taken to an emergency department early after attempting a “partial left mastectomy at home.” The incident was described as an “act of desperation” over the “unmet need” of masculinising chest surgeries.

The New Zealand Medical Journal reported that a combination of being unable to afford a private consultation and the “significant psychological stress” of gender dysphoria pushed the teen to attempt the surgery himself.

Several hours later he sought medical attention, fearing nerve damage.

Surgeons holding a variety of tools during an operation.
Surgeons completed the mastectomy on both of the patient’s breasts. (Getty)

Surgeons noted deep cuts around his entire left breast and subsequently completed the mastectomy on both breasts. Reports say he was discharged the following day.

Practitioners noted his improved mood and self-esteem during a post-op assessment a month later.

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“He reported improvement in self-esteem and self-confidence and his ability to complete school work, and was looking forward to enrolling at university,” the report revealed.

A mental-health assessment conducted before the mastectomy by doctors noted that he didn’t have any previous psychiatric diagnoses, and wasn’t suicidal.

“[He] had been considering gender-affirming surgery for years,” the report said. “A lack of access to gender-affirming surgery led to this act of desperation.”

Like many other countries that offer gender-affirming surgeries, waiting times for mastectomies, often referred to as top surgery, in New Zealand are increasingly long in the public healthcare system, while private procedures can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

According to the New Zealand not-for-profit organisation Gender Minorities Aotearoa, the waiting time for gender-reconstruction surgeries – known as bottom surgery – is estimated to be 10 to 12 years.

The group urged activists to contact their member of parliament to push for further funding to help cut the queues.

“Meet with your local MP, write letters and keep pushing until the waiting list meets the national standard… all surgery waiting lists should be less than six months,” they said.

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