Gender confirmation surgeries on the rise shows report by American Society of Plastic Surgeons
USA Today ｜ May 22, 2017
Gender confirmation surgeries are on the rise in the United States, according to newly released data from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
There has been an almost 20% increase in gender confirmation surgeries from 2015 to 2016, with more than 2,300 gender confirmation surgeries being performed in 2016, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, which has been tracking national statistics on gender confirmation surgeries.
Loren Schechter, MD, a board-certified plastic surgeon in Chicago, said in a statement that over the past few years plastic surgeons have seen an increase in patients seeking surgical treatment for gender dysphoria.
Schechter said gender confirmation surgery covers everything from facial surgery to breast or chest surgery and genital surgery.
“There is no one-size-fits-all treatment, and no one discipline can meet all the needs of an individual,” Schechter said in a statement. “For example, plastic surgeons work with doctors who specialize in hormone therapy, urology and with mental health professionals who help patients through the emotional aspects of their transition.”
The uptick in gender confirmation surgeries may be due to a number of things including more representation of transgender men and women in popular media and increased insurance coverage, according to Randi Kaufman, a clinical psychologist for the Gender and Family Project at the Ackerman Institute for the Family.
"While there is still a lot of discrimination and violence and hate crimes that continue against transgender people, there are a lot of positive role models out there now and it's becoming more accepted and normalized to know someone or have a family member or friend who is trans," Kaufman said in a phone interview.
#InTheirWords: Transgender voices in the U.S.
Michael Hendricks, a clinical psychologist, points to a D.C. law which requires any insurance policy based in D.C. to cover gender confirmation surgery, something that someday may increasingly become the norm.
“People have limited resources and insurance is now covering the basic surgery, so they may have funds to do other surgeries or types of procedures they wouldn’t have had money for previously,” he said.
While there is always some attention on whether a transgender man or woman had genital surgery, Hendricks said people should not ask their transgender friends or family members if they've had the surgery.
"It's like you are saying what do your genitals look like – that is something you wouldn't ask in polite company and you don’t ask unless you have a reason to know that like you are their physician or romantically involved with the person," he said.
Kaufman said it's important to notice that being transgender is "not all about surgery" and some may choose not to have surgery.
"For some people [surgery is] very important and for some it's not important at all," she said. “It’s who you are inside, your identity, what your genitals look like may or may not matter."
Schechter said he isn't sure whether there will continue to be an increase in gender confirmation surgeries, but said it's possible there may be fewer surgeries as people begin transitioning before puberty.
"As people get access to care earlier (i.e., adolescence who undergo pubertal suppression to prevent development of secondary sexual characteristics) we may see less surgery because many of the stigmata of the male face will not necessarily develop," he said in an email interview.
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