Salman Rushdie issues gender reassignment surgery warning to 'young people'

Jacob Stolworthy

Salman Rushdie has voiced concerns over “very young people” undergoing gender reassignment surgery.

The 70-year-old British author's latest novel, The Golden Houses, touches on the subject of gender identity, a topic he grew interested in after writing about a transgender community in India and listened to the experiences of two transgender friends.

Rushdie, who won the Man Booker Prize in 1981 for his novel Midnight's Children, told the Press Association: “There are two people I know quite closely who have transitioned… one in each direction… and in both cases these have been very successful.“

While Rushdie said that both friends “seemed much happier now than they were before,” he added: “I have quite strong views about the over-insistence on these issues, particularly when you get down to very young people.

“To put it crudely, if there’s a boy who likes playing with dolls and wearing pink shirts it shouldn’t necessarily mean that he has to have gender reassignment surgery.

“Until quite recently that would never have occurred to anyone, so I think we maybe need to just back off a little bit.”

The author, who was issued with a fatwa in 1989 after the publication of the controversial The Satanic Verses, continued by saying he had no wish to be “stupidly judgemental” on the topic in his novel, explaining that while he is “not hostile to [transitioning],” he “worries about it.”