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Sunday, May 19, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Think Twice, Cut Once

DETROIT (CN) - A man who had his genitals cut off so he could be a woman, then had second thoughts about it and wanted to be a man again, sued Michigan for refusing to issue him a third birth certificate, recertifying him as a man.

Louis Maurice Smith, 77, sued the Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics, in Kent County Court.

Smith's guardian and conservator, Peter Kulas, also is a plaintiff.

Smith says in the complaint that he had gender reassignment surgery 14 years ago and got a new birth certificate, but now he believes the sex-change operation was a sin, and the state won't re-issue him a male birth certificate.

"Smith was born a male on March 17, 1936 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and raised as a boy," the complaint states.

"After the onset of sexually deviant behaviors in his teens, plaintiff Smith spent time in several psychiatric facilities.

"At 17, plaintiff Smith was sentenced to Ionia State Hospital as a criminal sexual psychopath, where he remained for 17 years. Plaintiff Smith then spent 17 years in Jackson State Prison for breaking and entering a home to steal women's underwear, and later in various Michigan jails for shoplifting women's underwear.

"At various times throughout his life, plaintiff Smith was diagnosed with sexual and psychopathic deviance, sociopathy, and paraphilias.

"In 1999, at the age of 63, plaintiff Smith began expressing a desire to be a female. He was diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder by Dr. Alan Neal Wilson, a plastic surgeon in Detroit; this diagnosis was challenged by Dr. Andrea C. Bostrom, plaintiff Smith's psychologist in Grand Rapids.

"On November 2, 2000, the Kent County Circuit Court-Family Division, the Hon. Janet A. Haynes, granted plaintiff Smith's petition for a change of name from Louis Maurice Smith to Darsee Maree Smith, and ordered the State Registrar to create a new birth certificate in the female name," according to the complaint.

Smith says he began taking hormones to feminize his appearance, but told "Dr. Eugene A. Schrang, the surgeon who performed his sex reassignment surgery, that he did not want the doctor to create a vagina, but simply wanted his penis and testicles removed."

The complaint continues: "In October 2002, Dr. Schrang performed male-to-female sex reassignment surgery on plaintiff Smith; his external genitalia were removed or reconfigured to create external female genitalia.

"After his surgery, plaintiff Smith began to regret his decision to become a female. Dr. Bostrom noted major fluctuations in his gender presentation from August 2003 to January 2006, after which he consistently presented himself as a male. ...

"From 2006 to the present, plaintiff Smith has been unwavering in his presentation of himself as a male, and is considered to be a male by his friends, clergy, and health care providers.

"Plaintiff Smith would be considered a male under the medical criteria used by courts to determine gender.

"Since his surgery and to the present day, plaintiff Smith has regarded himself as a eunuch and a celibate in accordance with his interpretation of Scripture; he believes transsexuality to be a sin."

Smith changed his name back to Louis in 2009, and asked that his birth certificate be changed back to his male name, but the Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics rejected his request "because no surgery had been performed," the complaint states.

"In 2011, counsel requested that defendant make an exception for plaintiff Smith's unique circumstances and issue him a restored male birth certificate. Defendant responded that in order to assure the integrity of the information on plaintiff Smith's birth certificate, 'a request to change the sex designation back to the original designation would require either a new affidavit signifying that sex reassignment surgeries were again completed or a specific court order from a court of competent jurisdiction.'

"Plaintiff Smith's dual-gender status has had a profound effect on his life. His driver's license contains a picture of an elderly man with an F in the 'Sex' category. He has had problems using it to establish his identity.

"Plaintiff Smith's status has created problems with medical service providers, including difficulties obtaining coverage for medical care, erroneous referrals to doctors specializing in female care, erroneous referrals to doctors specializing in female care, inconsistent gender designations on medical records, and refusal by medical providers to address him as a male. For this reason, he has sought medical care infrequently.

"Plaintiff Smith has been ostracized by religious institutions, thwarted in conducting his business, and designated as a female in other official contexts like voter registration, causing confusion and embarrassment," according to the complaint.

Smith adds that "his reading of Scripture indicates to him that if, as a eunuch, he remains celibate, he can achieve the kingdom of Heaven."

"Plaintiff Smith believes that transsexuality is a 'sin of damnation,' and has stated, 'That a man can turn into a woman is a lie straight from the mouth and heart of Satan.'

"It is essential to plaintiff Smith's religious belief that he regard himself - and his regarded by society - as a man. ...

"It is not enough for plaintiff Smith to think and act like a man; he believes that to be right with God, he must be a man."

Smith asked that the court declare him a man, and order the Division of Vital Records reinstate his original birth certificate.

He is represented by Sherry Batzer, associate professor at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

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