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Belgium: Transgender man opts for death by euthanasia after failed surgery

Nathan Verhelst was ‘ready to celebrate my new birth’ but didn’t like the image he saw in the mirror

Nathan Verhelst opted for death by euthanasia after failed sex-reassignment surgery. Credit:

A Belgian transgender man, who requested medical euthanasia after failed sex-reassignment surgery, was killed by lethal injection Oct 1, Gay Star News reports.

Verhelst, who began hormone therapy in 2009 and also underwent a mastectomy and surgery to construct a penis, told Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws hours before his death that none of the operations “worked as desired.”

Verhelst said he was ready to celebrate his “new birth” but didn’t like the image he saw 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 did not want to be a monster.”

He also told the newspaper that he felt his family tolerated him, “nothing more.”

“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.”

In a letter to his family explaining his decision to end his life, Verhelst said that while he had had “happy times,” the “balance was on the wrong side.” 

His mother told the newspaper that she had had “a phantom birth.”

“When I saw Nancy [Nathan’s birth name] for the first time, my dream was shattered. She was so ugly,” his mother said, according to the report.

She added, “I will definitely read the 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.”

Cancer specialist Wim Distelmans, who administered the lethal injection, said Verhelst was “in a situation with incurable, unbearable suffering. Unbearable suffering for euthanasia can be both physical and psychological.”