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Should Sex-Change Surgery Be Tax-Deductible?

Posted on February 16 2010 4:29 pm
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by William Saletan

Rhiannon O’Donnabhain felt like a woman trapped in a man’s body. So she changed her body. She hired a surgeon to turn her scrotum* and penis into a vagina and clitoris. She got hormones and additional surgery to make her breasts look like a woman’s. Then she did something really ballsy: She wrote off these expenses—about $20,000—on her tax return. The IRS told her to stuff it. So she went to court.

O’Donnabhain said she took the hormones and got the surgery to treat gender identity disorder, a certified psychiatric illness. The IRS didn’t buy it. The agency dismissed GID as a “social construction.” It said her procedures were done to adjust her appearance, not to fix a physical defect. Therefore, the IRS argued, her expenses were cosmetic, not medically necessary.

This month, the U.S. Tax Court decided the case. Guess what? The transsexual beat the tax man. The court concluded that altering your appearance to make yourself socially comfortable can be medically necessary and therefore tax-deductible.

Read more at Slate.

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