First Do No Harm? Ethics Observations On “Dragon Lady”

Richard Hernandez, who now goes by Tiamat Legion Medusa, or just “Dragon Lady,” has spent more than $70,000 on a series of plastic surgeries and body modifications, a process triggered when the former bank vice-president was diagnosed with AIDS.

He/She/It/Them (He prefers it, and I won’t use “them”,) has had 18 horn implants, both ears removed, a partial nose removal (so he would look like Voldemort in the “Harry Potter” movies—COOL!), 32 teeth pulled and six of his remaining teeth sharpened to points, the whites of both eyes tinted green, and his tongue split into a fork. Tiamat has also had his chin altered nine times and nine piercings, among other procedures. He also underwent gender modification treatment.

Next up, Tiamat says, is the amputation “Mr. Bojangles,” his penis, along with having rainbow scales tatooed over every inch of skin, more horn implants, and both eyeballs stained  purple. The long term goal is to be transformed into a “genderless reptile” by 2025.

Good plan.


  • Is there any doubt that “Dragon Lady” is stark, raving mad?

Or would you adopt the generous position that he/she/it is simply taking advantage of American freedom of expression, and not being cruelly taken advantage of by a series of greedy doctors, hacks and tattoo artists happy to relieve Tiamet of as much money as possible in her/his/its deranged state?

  • “Dragon Lady” says, “I am happier today than I have ever been in my life because I mustered the courage to live my life on my terms and to march to the beat of my own drum…It is my goal and mission to shatter the gender binary and to inspire others out there to embrace being non-binary by sharing my story of going genderless.”

Does the fact that a patient is made happy by being mutilated relieve an ethical doctor of the duty to “do no harm”? Ethics Alarms has discussed this dilemma in the context of surgeons agreeing to amputate healthy limbs when an individual develops the delusion that they don’t belong on his or her body, or performing breast enhancement surgeries that give women mammaries the size of medicine balls.

  • Does the fact that “Dragon Lady” has an incurable disease matter in this calculation? Would a psychiatrist say that the obsession with becoming a genderless lizard is a hysterical and pathological reaction to a persoanl health crisis, and that such an individual needs to be institutionalized for their own safety?

In short, what’s going on here? Let me rephrase that. What the hell is going on here?

  • I’m sure it is politically incorrect to raise this, but might not the saga of Dragon Lady suggest that the current fad of Americans inventing their own genders and being celebrated for it is creating an epidemic of confusion and self-destructive behavior that threatens a coherent society and viable human relationships?

Is it wise to force everyone to applaud this development, and condemn any doubts or criticism as  “hate” and “bigotry”? What if the desire to reject one’s biological gender is frequently—not always, but frequently— a response to all the publicity, hype, and political posturing? Have we seriously considered that the pro-gender creativity propaganda is making insecure, confused young people mentally ill, or pushing them into self-destructive acts?

  • Call me narrow minded if you must, but  when a tough life (which Richard Hernandez clearly has had, if he can be believed)  seriously states, “I want to be a genderless reptile,”  that is the equivalent of what befell Lisa Simpson, with identical results…

and the correct response in that case was a diagnosis of “bonkers.”

  • Finally, consider this photograph:

Just how different are the former Richard Hernandez and the former Bruce Jenner?


34 thoughts on “First Do No Harm? Ethics Observations On “Dragon Lady”

  1. Gives us your insecure, confused and feeble minded yearning to belong. The lamp of liberty will serve as a beacon to guide you to advocacy groups and doctors willing to exploit your need to belong.

  2. “In order to have enough freedom, it is necessary to have too much” C. Darrow
    Did “he” actually complete the psych evaluation for gender reassignment or just find plastic surgeons willing to do this for cash? If this is sanity, then no one is insane….we all just have our unique paths to walk through life. Please tell me that this is entirely with his own or donated money, that taxpayers are not funding this.

    • Darrow’s statement is, I believe, the American way. The “too much” part is generally curbed by law (driving speeds, for instance) but sometimes dangerously not, such as with anti-vaxxers. It’s a constant tightrope walk with many variables.

      The actual costs of Hernandez’ body modifications are unknown; in some cases, probably low or none since he is a walking advertisement for the tattoo parlors and surgeries. It is likely, I would say, that the more medically acute were not performed in the United States. (At the risk of being labeled racist, I will note the all the names of the modifiers so far publicized are Hispanic.) According to Dr. Matthew Schulman, a Manhattan-based, board-certified plastic surgeon, speaking with great care: “the removal idea is something that no plastic surgeon is going to do,” . . . “The danger with that is people are going to do what they want to do, and it forces them to go down a different route such as having these [procedures] done by non-medical professionals in settings that may not be appropriate.”

      A Short History of the American Tattoo Tradition says they became acceptable to mainstream culture in less than a generation. Huff Post reports that almost 40% of American’s 18-25 have at least one tattoo and that in spite of the laws against under-18s getting them, parents are increasingly likely to approve. (No studies have been done to show the quality or extent of emotional blackmail involved.)

      Again, as far as psychological evaluation and gender reassignment surgery is concerned, Hernandez is more likely to pursue them in another country. He claims, and these claims appear to be backed up by legitimate medical evidence, that none of the modifications have damaged his general health or ability to function. In fact, the removal of the outer ear lessens volume and makes it harder to distinguish where sound is coming from, but doesn’t destroy hearing. The removal of the nose, however, destroys the body’s ability to filter out dust and other large particles or humidify the air: gone it the mucus that traps the particles so you can sneeze them out. Results: Hernandez may not perceive where the siren sound is coming from or even hear it as soon as he should, and he is inhaling more dry and dusty air than is good for his lungs.

      In future, his disappeared ears will exacerbate any age-related hearing loss, and his noselessness is likely to be the cause of breathing problems, but so far he has no complaints and is not considered physically impaired beyond his immunosuppression. Considering the extent of the multiple invasive procedures and surgeries, I’d say it was moral luck so far that he hasn’t had or has survived multiple life-threatening infections. Meanwhile, the more publicity he has, the more “followers” in approval or copy-cat behavior he will have.

      Legally and (questionably ethically?) we may not impinge on his personal freedoms up to the point where the body modifications are medically (officially) considered life-threatening self-harm. Realistically — See the last sentence of the previous paragraph, and good luck with reducing that. The only solution I can see is that Hernandez will succumb to at least one major health problem attributed to the “cosmetic” changes he has inflicted upon him himself – and that that will be even more widely publicized.

      p.s. While the diagnosis of AIDS may have been the main impetus for Hernandez’ beginnings with dragon-body decoration in 1997 — along with the excuse of working out some rather bizarre stories of childhood abuse and abandonment — it is no longer pertinent as the negative he meant it to be. His behavior has had a mixed result: scaring the hell out of parents as it encourages young imaginations in a deplorable (I will NOT let Them destroy my vocabulary!) direction, and at the same time, letting the public and particularly the vulnerable portion of teenagers and young adults, know, at least subliminally, that life does indeed proceed as normal with HIV, even under extreme forms of self-abuse. However ugly, perverse, and (yes) medically undesirable, Dragon Lady’s example to followers is to promote his or her choice as preferable … and, I think, ethical … to suicide.

      • ”And I’m thinking no drum known to man makes the sound he’s hearing.”

        No argument there. Perhaps THIS accompanied by hard nails being slowly dragged, against the grain, over a brittle chalkboard?

        ”You want to make a bigger legacy”?

        Some mighty fine alternatives you’ve supplied! Ones most of the lucid would deem selfless and make-a-positive-difference-forward-looking. Preferable (IMO) to barreling down the inexplicable AND (also IMO) irreversible, dead-end road to gender-less reptile.

        Sheesh; this makes abundant Hey; Look At Me! tat & piercing…um…concentrations appear almost sane.

    • On a different planet, too. I have no objections to costume roleplay, but at the end of the day you are only yourself. You want to make a bigger legacy, spend that 75k to help talented get started, give a retro scholarship after grades came in, set up a charity keying on good works instead of appearance, help unemployed find a better job… The sky is the limit.

      Denying your own humanity, setting a bad example about living a healthy life after reverses, and thinking on some level that dragons don’t die of AIDs? This is sad and pointless, nothing to make other lives better, it’s self-indulgence and pretending it helps anyone else. It will encourage people to di extremes and ruin their lives and embitter those who don’t have 70k and masochistic tendencies.

      No matter how much surgery, humanity cannot be escaped. 15 minutes of fame comes to more freaks than sterling citizens.

  3. Remember the beginning of this? “Do your own thing.” “It’s your thing. Do what you wanna do.” For the last fifty years we’ve been shoveled this baloney. Over time, these sorts of slogans can become toxic. I was struck by the prevalence of Authentic Frontier Gibberish arising from a situation that produces piles of it: Celebrity Divorce. Here’s Miley Cyrus on why she’s leaving her marriage (from The Daily Mail):

    Miley broke her silence on the split on Sunday morning, telling her Instagram followers she was going to let life take its path.
    ‘Don’t fight evolution, because you will never win,’ she wrote.
    ‘Like the mountain I am standing on top of, which was once under water, connected with Africa, change is inevitable. The Dolomites were not created over night, it was over millions of years that this magnificent beauty was formed.
    ‘My dad always told me, “Nature never hurries but it is always on time”… it fills my heart with peace and hope KNOWING that is true.’
    She concluded by reflecting on her own life, saying: ‘I was taught to respect the planet and its process and I am committed to doing the same with my own.’

    By which I guess she means, “Don’t expect me to grow up at anything more than a literally, geologically glacial pace.” Great thought leaders we have today. Billy Ray Cyrus, as interpreted by his erudite daughter.

      • Do these entertainment people even get high school diplomas? Intellectually, I think most of them are feral. They can sing or act and the get a manager and an agent and away they go, making money for everyone. How do they grow up or mature? They’re celebrities!

  4. What happens if ? chooses to go into any business to transact business. Do I as a resturaunteur legally have to accomodate every freak show that rears its ugly comestically destroyed head?

    I believe in self determination but I recognize others have the same rights. These are not immutable human characteristics so as long as this idiot never tries someone else to accomodate (? ) wants and desires or forces me to hire it I don’t care.

  5. The fact that serious people would have to take even ten seconds to consider whether this individual is sane is a reflection of how far our culture has gone down the slippery slope of encouraging self-indulgent non-conformity in a myriad of forms. I only had to glance at the photos to reach a conclusion of insanity. No person in his, her (or its) right mind would desire self-mutilation to the point that most “normal” people would avoid any contact with the individual so maimed. What’s done is (mostly) done, but any doctor who would participate in such a process should be locked up and given an opportunity to practice medicine in prison where there is an appropriate level of enforced circumspection on choosing procedures. Using an “incurable disease” as an excuse for such bizarre self destructive behavior is itself some sort of ethical cop-out. Disgusting and distressing at the same time.

  6. He seems capable of making his own choices and of course should have the freedom to do these sorts of things. I don’t think a doctor should be allowed to castrate anyone, but, the argument goes, if you don’t let them do it, then people will do it to themselves. In a better culture, no one would want to do anything like that, and a person with occasional thoughts of doing such things would just let them pass, as no one would encourage him.

    We now have a culture where people are interested in doing these sorts of things, and receive lots of support and attention. To be more accurate, an anti-culture, wherein the only shared value is that no one should have any shared values. “Blazing a trail,” “being the first to” and “marching to the beat of your own drum” are prized character traits, regardless of the actual value or virtue of whatever it is you actually do. If you make magazine covers for being the first 400 pound woman to model sexy swimwear, you are BETTER, more cherished, and more valuable in 2019 than a doctor who helps 100 people overcome obesity (because big deal, lots of uncool people have already done boring stuff like that.) The fact that one thing is bad and harmful and the other good and helpful is irrelevant.

  7. I am reminded of the meme depicting a badly mangled fork alongside un-disfigured forks, with the caption “Just because you are unique does not mean you are useful.”

  8. 1) “Dragon Lady’s” appearance alarms me. Unfortunately, I am not currently empowered to enforce my personal preferences as far as people’s bizarre and disturbing style choices are concerned. That person (or dragon-thing, apparently) claims to be pleased by its appearance.

    2.) Considering the many and varied cultures that have risen and fallen over this globe’s history, Dragon Lady’s personal mutilations are neither the most painful, nor the most debilitating that one could find. Foot-binding, trepanation, that neck-stretching thing some tribes practiced, and extreme corsetry were all practiced in different cultures, all with terrible health consequences, and none of those practices were considered insane or improper in their time.

    3.) Anything that decreases the likelihood that Dragon Lady will reproduce and raise children to think its self-indulgent and narcissistic quest is normal is a good thing, both for our culture and, possibly, for our entire species.

  9. Along with the medical ‘first do no harm’ should also come the legal question being ‘of sound mind.’ Erasing yourself before death comes for you is something almost spiteful. We all must deal with death and lost opportunities, he’s not any more special for having an extreme denial. These choices, like the earlier mentioned amputations, are disturbing because there are no backsies. If someone is that determined and isn’t doing it in reaction to some major life change, (dragon lady would fail this check), then like transitioning, they should try it on in with costuming for a year or two… Just because you can survive without ears or a nose, doesn’t mean they don’t have a purpose.

  10. What does it say about me that my first thought on seeing those photos is, “How does one pick a booger out of a nose like that?” Some sort of instrument or tool would be necessary. Highly impractical, especially if this dude lives in a dry climate.

  11. Well Dragon Lady is well on their way to becoming a circus freak if they have them anymore. I watched the old movie “Freaks” quite a while back and the unfortunate cast of mentally deficient, “little people”, and amputees were born that way. Dragon Lady has no such excuse. I’m not a fan of full body tattoos either which I guess makes me an old fuddy duddy.

    • I’m not a fan of full body tattoos either which I guess makes me an old fuddy duddy.

      Yes, it does. Like me, you are a fuddy duddy of taste and discernment.

    • To make matters worse, they have something meant for grades 9-12 written at the grade 3-4 level. I guess that means that teenagers are reading at the grade 3-4 level?! Education, where art thou? But anyway, do kids actually read nowadays?

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