Rushdie: We must ‘back off’ push­ing sex changes for chil­dren

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - News - By Padraic Flana­gan

SA­TANIC Verses au­thor Sir Sal­man Rushdie says so­ci­ety needs to ‘back off’ pro­mot­ing sex-change surgery to young peo­ple.

The 70-year-old writer says he ‘wor­ries’ how chil­dren are be­ing af­fected by more lib­eral at­ti­tudes to gen­der-re­as­sign­ment pro­ce­dures.

He adds: ‘I have quite strong views about the over-in­sis­tence on these is­sues, par­tic­u­larly when you get down to very young peo­ple.

‘Be­cause, to put it crudely, if there’s a boy who likes play­ing with dolls and wear­ing pink shirts it shouldn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean that he has to have gen­der-re­as­sign­ment surgery.

‘Un­til quite re­cently that would never have oc­curred to any­one, so I think we maybe need to just back off a lit­tle bit.’

How­ever, Rushdie in­sisted he did not want to be ‘stupidly judg­men­tal’ about the is­sue, which he tack­les in his new novel The Golden House.

He said: ‘My per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence of peo­ple who have gone through this process as grown-ups is it’s been very ben­e­fi­cial to them, so I’m not hos­tile to it. But I’m just say­ing, par­tic­u­larly when it’s with lit­tle chil­dren, I worry about it.’

In an in­ter­view to pro­mote the book, Mr Rushdie added: ‘There are two peo­ple I know quite closely who have tran­si­tioned – one in each di­rec­tion – and in both cases these have been very suc­cess­ful. Both peo­ple seemed to me much hap­pier now than they were before.’

The au­thor fa­mously spent more than a decade in hid­ing af­ter a fatwa was is­sued by Iran’s Ay­a­tol­lah Khome­ini in 1989 fol­low­ing the pub­li­ca­tion of The Sa­tanic Verses.

On the cur­rent cli­mate of ter­ror, he said: ‘The only an­swer is not to al­low it to change us into be­ing dif­fer­ent kinds of peo­ple and not to al­low our so­ci­eties to be­come much more closed and re­pres­sive.

‘We have to have the courage of our con­vic­tions.’

‘WOR­RY­ING’: Sal­man Rushdie

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