Metro Weekly

Transgender woman does not want man charged for botched transition sugery

A Colorado man is charged with felony assault for performing an illegal operation at the woman's request

James Pennington – Photo: Denver Police, via the Associated Press.

The transgender woman who asked an acquaintance to perform an illegal transition surgery on her says the man shouldn’t be charged with a crime, and blames her predicament on the multitude of obstacles that prevent transgender people from obtaining gender confirmation surgery.

James Pennington, a 57-year-old licensed pilot, has been charged with second-degree felony assault and one count of unauthorized practice of medicine for removing the woman’s testicles with a scalpel from an Army surgical medical kit, even though he does not have a medical license. He is next scheduled to appear in court on June 6.

According to the arrest affidavit, Pennington went to the victim’s apartment at her request on May 17 to perform the surgery. He then sutured the incision and told her to call 911 if complications developed. The procedure, which was witnessed by the victim’s wife, took about 90 minutes, reports Denver NBC affiliate 9News.

When the victim’s wife changed the dressing around 2 p.m., a large amount of blood poured from the incision, so she called 911. Paramedics contacted the police and transported the victim to Aurora Medical Center. A doctor at the medical center said the victim was at risk of permanent disfigurement.

But the woman is coming to her would-be surgeon’s aid, insisting she does not want to see him prosecuted. But the district attorney’s office seems intent on pursuing the charges against Pennington.

In a letter to 9News, the victim, who identifies herself as Jane Doe, says she places the blame on the medical and societal obstacles that often prevent transgender people from beign able to access and pay for medically necessary care for their gender dysphoria.

“I tried for many years to go through legitimate routes to get these surgeries which would make my physical genitalia match my gender,” writes Doe. “Yet every time something went wrong. Whether it be the loss of insurance, or changes in the law, I have been stopped at every single turn from completing my transition. … Mr. Pennington presented me an opportunity to achieve this goal. He offered me a kindness which the environment I live in denied me.

“So, no, I am not a victim of Mr. Pennington, nor is Mr. Pennington a monster. I will not be pressing charges against him because of this. I hope the District Attorney is kind to him, and while I hope he never operates again because of how dangerous it turned out to be, that he is not harshly sentenced,” she adds.

“I am one of many victims of a society and healthcare system which focuses on trying to bully and discourage transgender people into the shadows instead of realizing that we are here, we are real, and we deserve and absolutely need these medical resources,” Doe concludes. “As long as this system continues in its present form there will continue to be events like this. Until this system is fixed and transgender people are encouraged and able to get the care we need, there will always be cases like me.”

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