At age 44, Nathan Verhelst looked into a mirror and saw a monster staring back.
Born Nancy Verhelst, the Belgian transsexual recently granted a “farewell interview” to a newspaper wherein he/she bemoans a love-starved childhood:
I was the girl that nobody wanted. While my brothers were celebrated, I got a storage room above the garage as a bedroom. “If only you had been a boy,” my mother complained. I was tolerated, nothing more….
As a child, little Nancy acted like a tomboy. With puberty’s onset, she dove headfirst into lesbianism with the eagerness of a pearl diver. Then came hormone treatments, which, in all fairness, left her looking quite like a dude. Then came a mastectomy. Then, last year, she had a surgical penis grafted onto her crotch.
But upon seeing the results of this strange and exotic elective medical intervention, Verhelst was sorely displeased:
I was ready to celebrate my new birth. But when I looked in the mirror, I was disgusted with myself. My new breasts did not match my expectations and my new penis had symptoms of rejection. I do not want to be…a monster….Instead of starting a real new life I was incarcerated in a body that I did not wish. It was wrong when I was born as a girl. As a boy I got a body that I didn’t want….I had happy moments but in the end the balance tipped to the wrong side.
So after a lifetime of putdowns and letdowns, Nathan Verhelst decided to have himself put down. And he did it with a doctor’s help last Monday afternoon, most likely by lethal injection. And seeing as this was Belgium, it was all perfectly legal.
Nathan’s voluntary euthanasia is thought to be the first of a Belgian transsexual. Choosing to have genital reconstructive surgery is already more of a dramatic, life-altering decision than, say, getting a tattoo. But electing to have a physician put you to death? That, my friend, is hardcore. It’s the ultimate in body modification.
Nathan’s biological mom, who spoke to a Belgian newspaper but elected to not be identified, appears to be a bit of a monster herself. Her comments suggest that Nathan’s problems may have had little to do with gender dysphoria or botched snap-on penises:
When I saw ‘Nancy’ for the first time, my dream was shattered. She was so ugly. I had a ghost birth. Her death does not bother me….I will definitely read it [her farewell letter] but it will be full of lies. For me, this chapter is closed. Her death does not bother me. I feel no sorrow, no doubt or remorse. We never had a bond.
Others were kinder to Nathan, at least when speaking to the press. “He died in all serenity,” said Wim Distlemans, the oncologist who facilitated Nathan’s euthanasia. “We could clearly see he was in unbearable psychological distress.”
Wait”psychological distress, you say? Aren’t assisted suicide and euthanasia only considered ethical when the patient is deemed terminally ill? Do you mean to say that in Belgium, you can have a doctor give you a lethal hot shot because you claim to be feeling a trifle blue?
Apparently so. In Belgium last year a woman chose to terminate her existence because she was depressed. Earlier this year a woman elected to have herself killed because she couldn’t handle the travails of anorexia, or what she called “the cancer in my head.” In 2012 Belgium notched 52 completed cases of euthanasia justified solely on psychological grounds.