OII Australia was recently contacted by the Kamol Cosmetic Hospital in Thailand asking for information in respect of establishing a series of information sessions in Melbourne and Sydney. Kamol is a cosmetic Hospital that specialised in surgery for trans women. The hospital also offers surgery for trans men. I understood that the hospital was intrested in offering services to intersex people as well as to trans people.
We passed on what information that was in the public domain that might be helpful. We were in turn asked if we might attend so that we could pass on what information that might be relevant to OII Australia.
The presenters went to some length to explain that Kamol is a hospital not a clinic and noted that there is a significant distinction in Thailand between the two. It offers full surgical facilities with recovery wards and hotel like accommodation for post-operative recovery. General information on the facility is available on the hospital’s web page, and their Facebook page.
My interest in attending was to discover what services they might offer to intersex people. My questions in respect of that were first met with confusion as the three people from the Kamol hospital present were unfamiliar with the term ‘intersex’. The were however familiar with the word hermaphrodite. Their initial reaction was that their role was to discover the “true sex” of the individual in question, then perform normalisation surgeries on that person. Their understanding was that I was talking about infants.
Further discussion revealed that they were quite unfamiliar with intersex and, in fact, had rarely seen intersex people in their experience. They cited two cases to me, both Thai nationals and both some time ago, as the only hermaphrodite/intersex people they had seen as clients.
I asked if they had ever experienced a client presenting for “sex reassignment“ who was intersex, or who was discovered to have intersex differences during surgery. The assistant to the surgeon and the surgeon’s partner advised me that they had never experienced that, and that they would be unlikely to perform or recommend surgery on intersex clients because of their lack of experience.
I put to them a number of scenarios that might see an intersex person seeking out their services – such as clitorectomy repair, vaginal lengthening, or mastectomy. I was told that there would be no effective treatment for a cliterectomy, intersex or not, and in respect of the others they would defer to a specialist surgeon with experience in those kinds of surgeries.
I was taken by their frank and direct answers to my questions and they in turn were most interested in discovering a little about intersex.
For trans women the cost of reassignment surgery was around $10,000m and for trans men $38,000. The cost to stay in their serviced accommodation is around $50 per night.
The Kamol Hospital offers an extensive variety of other cosmetic surgeries such as rhinoplasty, breast augmentation and reduction, facelift etc that would be of general pubic interest. Their facility seems to be modern and reasonably priced.
So far as offering anything that might be useful for intersex specific needs, the hospital’s experience is enlightening but inappropriate for those needs.