It was recently revealed that New York Children’s Services paid for a 21-year-old’s sex change operation to become a woman. The surgery, which took place last Wednesday, cost $10,000.

The procedure was made possible due to a loophole that covers surgeries for people without health insurance.

In order for the NYC Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) to pay for the surgery, the patient had to quality as a “child” — meaning she had to be under 21, the age when young adults exit the foster system. Wednesday’s surgery was approved by social services just days before the patient’s 21st birthday.

Critics of the costly surgery argue that taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize cosmetic surgeries.

Many in the transgender community, however, insists that a sex change operation is far more than just a cosmetic surgery. Supporters claim the patient was entitled to the procedure and have praised the government-funded surgery.

Mariah Lopez, a spokesperson from the Strategic Transgender Alliance for Radical Reform (STARR) said, “What’s happening now is a shift by ACS, in the largest city in the world, influencing health care nationally.”

In response to the controversy surrounding the procedure, ACS released the following statement: “ACS reviews all requests for medical treatment on a case-by-case basis, conducting internal reviews as well as consulting medical professionals’ expertise, to ascertain the nature and severity of a medical condition and determine if a procedure will provide a significant benefit to a youth.”

ACS refused to make specific comments regarding Wednesday’s procedure.

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