BELGIUM — A Belgian woman died by lethal injection this week after she requested to be euthanized following a sex-change operation.
Nancy Verhelst, 44, known in recent years as Nathan, cited “unbearable psychological suffering” as the reason for her death wish. She had received hormone therapy in 2009, as well as a mastectomy and other surgeries, in her pursuit to transform from female to male.
However, the surgery left Verhelst feeling dissatisfied, and she did not like the way she looked.
“I was ready to celebrate my new birth. But when I looked in the mirror, I was disgusted with myself,” she stated, according to reports. “I did not want to be … a monster.”
Before her death, Verhelst told reporters that she felt unloved growing up, and believed that her brothers were favored in the family.
“I was the girl that nobody wanted,” she said. “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,” Verhelst continued. “I was tolerated, nothing more.”
She said that she became a tomboy in her youth and later turned to lesbianism before electing to have a sex-change operation.
Verhelst left a note for her family before her death, explaining her reasons for choosing euthanasia. But her mother advised that she will not mourn the loss of her child.
“Her death does not bother me. I feel no sorrow, no doubt or remorse,” she told the Het Laatste Nieuws. “When I first saw ‘Nancy,’ my dream was shattered. She was so ugly. … I will definitely read [the letter], but it will be full of lies.”
Cancer specialist Wim Distelmans carried out the legal injection this week.
“This was a case that clearly met the conditions demanded by the law. Nathan underwent counseling for six months,” he told reporters. “There are other factors that meant he was in a situation with incurable, unbearable suffering. Unbearable suffering for euthanasia can be both physical and psychological.”
However, the news of Verhelst’s death was met with great sorrow this week, as many stated that her demise could have been avoided.
“It’s unfortunate in the extreme that this woman was taken seriously about wanting to be a man. It’s pretty obvious this had more to do with her upbringing and her family’s rejection of her from birth (mainly her mother),” one commenter wrote. “She sounds like someone who was in turmoil and anguished about herself, but not because she needed to be a man, but because she was told she was the wrong sex by her mother. Too bad doctors could not have given her different help first. Poor thing. She had a sad life. And a sadder death.”
“It’s so sad that Nancy never got the true help she needed,” another stated. “I was wish she were still with us, and I don’t believe that assisted suicide … was warranted. She was suffering from a horrible childhood and with time and proper diagnosis many are able to overcome this and have joyful lives.”