Gender Confirmation Surgery, also called Gender Affirmation Surgery, is an important step for individuals that want to affirm their identity through surgical procedures. If you are considering gender affirmation surgery, here is some information to help you better understand the physical and emotional benefits that surgery may offer.
Physical Effects of Surgery
Surgery can make physical changes to the body to help some individuals wholly embrace their gender identity. Gender dysphoria is a term you may have heard before; it is the distress that one feels when their assigned sex at birth does not match the gender they feel is true to them. It is important to note that not all transgender individuals feel gender dysphoria. But for those who do, surgery is sometimes an excellent option.
Once physical changes have been made through surgery, the vast majority of individuals are greatly satisfied with their results. This helps relieve the gender dysphoria that they have been struggling with. For many, this can mean relief from years of mental suffering. Surgery can provide that “final push” to fully expressing one’s true, authentic self.
Surgery usually takes place after a process of both medical and psychological evaluations by professionals who specialize in this area of expertise. It is crucial that every step of this process is carefully followed because it can ensure a positive and satisfactory outcome for the patient. Often times, hormone therapy is an important precursor to the surgical process (but not for everyone).
There are two general categories of surgery that can be performed: transfeminine and transmasculine. Here is a brief overview of each.
These procedures allow an individual to make physical changes that accommodate a more feminine expression of gender. Although transgender individuals often select this type of surgery, non-binary and gender diverse individuals may also decide that it’s right for them.
Remember, whatever decisions feel right for you are what your team of gender confirmation specialists will support. Some specific options for transfeminine surgery include vaginoplasty (i.e., penile inversion or using part of the colon), bilateral orchiectomy (removal of both testicles), breast augmentation, body contouring, and facial feminization procedures.
These procedures allow an individual to make physical changes that accommodate a more masculine expression of gender. Some individuals choose one or two procedures; others may feel that multiple procedures are what best fit their needs. Again, many transgender males may choose this type of surgery, but non-binary and gender diverse folks often choose these procedures as well.
Transmasculine procedure options include chest (“top”), metoidioplasty (“meta”), phalloplasty, urethral lengthening, full/partial hysterectomy, scrotoplasty (usually with testicular implants), and erectile devices.
Emotional Effects of Surgery
For those who express their gender freely to others, some individuals still feel that surgery is a necessary part of their transition. Surgery can provide an end to the distress caused by gender dysphoria.
By the time they decide to have surgery, many individuals have already been reflecting their true gender expression in public and/or to their family and friends. This can be accomplished through clothing, grooming practices, pronoun usage, and name changes. Being able to be one’s true self in front of others can bring happiness and a sense of freedom.
Both prior to and following surgery, mental health counseling is highly recommended (and often times necessary to qualify for surgery). Therapy with a trained professional with expertise in this area can provide individuals with a way to process all of the changes taking place.
For so many transgender, gender diverse, and non-binary folks, they carry the burden of a long history of pain, rejection, violence, and discrimination. Counseling can help with talking through these feelings, developing coping skills, and stepping into one’s true identity in the ways they choose to. Together, both counselor and client will work toward creating a life with less distress and more happiness.
Help for Those Seeking Gender Affirmation
For those who are in the process of transitioning, there are many different pieces of the puzzle that may fit. Each individual is different, and no one answer is right for everyone. When making the decision to transition, counseling, medical treatments, and surgical procedures are all a part of the spectrum of services that may be considered.
One of the most important aspects of the transition process is having the right support system in place. This can include a partner, family, friends, doctors, and your mental health professional. With an outstanding team of supporters cheering you on, every step of your journey can be affirming, satisfying, and fulfilling.
For more information about gender affirmation surgery and to meet with a doctor who specializes in this area, contact the Center for Gender Confirmation Surgery at Weiss Memorial Hospital today. We are here to help you as you embark on a new beginning.