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Gender Reassignment Surgeons in Short Supply

| Aug 15, 2016
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(Philadelphia, PA) – According to Dr. Sherman Leis, a transgender surgery pioneer and founder of the Philadelphia Center for Transgender Surgery, “There is a crisis in the transgender community in the U.S., resulting from a dramatic shortage of transgender surgeons and other specialized medical practitioners.  This shortage results in an excessively long wait for those desiring transgender surgery.  Since depression and suicide rates for transgender people drop precipitously after transitioning, this backlog of those awaiting surgery is a needless cause of suffering and death for many transgender people.” 

At one time a key roadblock limiting transgender surgery was the lack of health insurance coverage.  Today, that roadblock is disappearing as  transgender surgery is becoming partially or completely covered by most company-offered policies, as well as Obamacare.  Dr. Leis asks, “it is true that the number of transgender surgeries in the U.S. has risen each year, but the question must be asked, why isn’t there a significant rise in surgeries, now that the insurance coverage obstacle has been diminished?”  Said Dr. Leis, “America is on its way toward solving its health insurance problem for transgender people.  Now it needs to solve its medical personnel and facilities problem.  For many transgender people, it’s a matter of life and death.” 

Dr. Leis notes that currently, physicians who have minimal or no training in the mental health, hormonal and surgical aspects of transgender medicine are trying to pick up the slack by treating transgender patients, often resulting in inferior quality care, serious complications and sometimes irreversible surgical deformities. Dr. Leis recommends 4 initiatives the medical community must adopt in order to permanently solve this issue:

1) Provide focused training for transgender patients in every medical and nursing school.

2) Provide a transgender-focused rotation and specialty training track as an optional part of every medical curriculum.

3) Provide a dedicated, transgender certification standard that doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals must meet in order to be certified to work with transgender patients.

4) Expand services for transgender adults and children at all clinics and hospitals and provide sensitivity training for all who work there.

Said Dr. Leis, “The medical community must recognize that this is not just a matter of diversity in including the transgender community, rather, it is matter of life and death for those transgender people who await transgender surgery and care that just may not happen quickly enough for them.”

Dr. Sherman Leis is one of the world’s pre-eminent transgender surgeons and founder of The Philadelphia Center for Transgender Surgery, located in Bala Cynwyd, PA. It is recognized as one of the leading facilities in the world specializing in gender reassignment surgery.


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  1. says:

    Nadia, I admire your self-reliance!

    As for the gatekeepers, I think everybody knows you just go in there and tell them what they want/expect to hear.

    I understand your philosophical disagreement with anyone telling you what you can and can’t do with your own body, but we don’t – nor has anyone ever – lived in a society that gives full freedom to the individual.

    So we play the game.

    And I, personally, don’t want to give minors such unlimited power with their immaturity and undeveloped brains.

  2. says:

    “…making transsexual bottom surgery purely elective and available on request just any of the numerous vanity cosmetic surgeries.”

    Nadia, are you saying a sex change is just another ‘vanity cosmetic’ operation, like a nose job or tummy tuck?

    Also does one need the gatekeepers’ psychiatric approval to have SRS in Thailand, for example?

    • Nadia Nadia says:

      “Nadia, are you saying a sex change is just another ‘vanity cosmetic’ operation, like a nose job or tummy tuck?”

      I am not saying that it *is* a ‘vanity cosmetic’ operation, rather I’m saying that it should be *just as accessible as* those ‘vanity cosmetic’ operations. As to whether TS bottom surgery is ‘vanity cosmetic’ or not, that depends on each individual person’s perspective. Some TGs may consider their bottom surgery to be absolutely medically necessary, they would ask to have it covered by insurance and so forth – more power to them, I have nothing against them. But as for ME, I am different – for MYSELF I would like to get MY SRS as if it were a ‘vanity cosmetic’ procedure, I insist as a matter of principle on paying for it purely in cash (i.e., I would decline to seek insurance coverage for it even if I had such, and still insist on paying in cash – just my personal principle, because for ME I consider it a purely personal choice, not medical), and as a cash-paying customer (I don’t like the term “patient”), I want to be able to get it without any approvals, just with my dollars.

      “Also does one need the gatekeepers’ psychiatric approval to have SRS in Thailand, for example?”

      Unfortunately yes, it seems – the notion that one can get SRS in Thailand without WPATH letters appears to be a myth rather than the truth. I’ve looked on the websites of several Thai surgeons, and they all say that follow WPATH SoC and require letters of approvals. If you know of a surgeon who would just take my $$$ and operate on me without any gatekeeping, please please please tell me their contact info!

      So it looks like I’ll have to do the same thing that t-girls did back in the 80s: pay extortion money to a pair of shrinks while telling them what they want to hear. Just to be clear, if I am forced to see a shrink for the purpose of obtaining my SRS approval letters, I will NEVER tell them even one ounce of truth, I will never-ever-ever tell them how I really feel, there would be ZERO “therapeutic” benefit to me from those sessions, instead I will go in there reading a memorized script of the most boring, most vanilla, most classic transsexual story, just to get them to write me the letters. Unfortunately there is no way around having to pay those shrinks for their “services” – so it’s just pure extortion, part of the cost of being trans in the f***ed-up society we live in.

      I haven’t started seriously looking into it yet, though – has to do with my financial spending priorities. Remember, I don’t believe in insurance, I am philosophically opposed to it, hence it makes no sense for me to spend time seriously inquiring into SRS for myself until I have enough cash in my stash to pay for it. And I’ve got several other major spending priorities scheduled ahead of my personal vanity surgery, thus I need to take care of those first, and only *then* start saving up the dough for my vanity SRS. It’ll probably be another few years – who knows, maybe the rules will get eased up by then, and it might be easier if I can prove that I’ve been living as a woman full-time for, say, 5 years – so far it’s only been 1 year for me…

  3. Nadia Nadia says:

    The biggest barrier to access to gender confirmation surgeries is not cost or insurance coverage or lack of surgeons, but the tyrannical WPATH requirement of having letters of approvals from shrinks. Having to seek the approval of a shrink before any gender surgeon will operate on you is so extremely demeaning and humiliating that I suspect it is a major contributor to the sadly high suicide rate in our community – I suspect that some of our sisters who extinguish their lights do so because they prefer death over the ultimate humiliation of allowing some shrink to decree their fate. Thus if you wish to make life better for TG folks, you should start with disbanding and dissolving WPATH, shredding and burning every copy of their “Standards of Care”, and making transsexual bottom surgery purely elective and available on request just any of the numerous vanity cosmetic surgeries.

  4. says:

    “There is a crisis in the transgender community in the U.S., resulting from a dramatic shortage of transgender surgeons and other specialized medical practitioners.”

    I’d like to see evidence of that assertion.

    Also is it, in fact, less expensive to travel to Thailand for SRS rather than having it done here?

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