What to Know When a Friend Is Undergoing Transgender Surgery
The majority of children are still taught in a way that conforms to traditional gender-normative beliefs. As a result, as they grow up, they may not be prepared to fully understand either gender dysphoria or the gender-confirmation process.
Transgender surgery is an intense process, both physically and psychologically. If your friend is undergoing transgender surgery, it’s important to be prepared and informed regarding the process so that you can be helpful and supportive during this time.
People who are born with a biological gender that they do not identify with often experience gender dysphoria. This condition describes the feeling of intense stress associated with this circumstance.
A transgender person is someone who has a gender identity other than the biological sex they were born with. To address gender dysphoria, many trans people may transition socially and/or medically into the gender they identify with.
A social transition includes coming out to family and friends as trans, grooming themselves in a such a way as to match the preferred gender identity, and adopting a different name to match their gender identity.
A medical transition includes hormone therapy and surgery. This surgery is known as gender-confirmation surgery, or transgender surgery.
The Medical Transition Process
Before a transgender person can undergo a medical transition, they must speak with a mental health provider. The diagnosis of gender dysphoria and a letter of recommendation from the mental health provider are the first steps in a medical transition.
After psychological evaluation and on receiving the letter of recommendation, the patient can begin hormone therapy under a practicing doctor. Hormone therapy is a part of the transition process for feminisation or masculinisation.
- Masculinisation hormone therapy is for transitioning from a female to a male and includes androgens.
- Feminisation hormone therapy is for a transition from a male to a female and includes estrogen and antiandrogens.
A transgender person is expected to experience a social transition and present as the gender they identify with for a period of time before they can experience the genital aspect of their surgical transition.
A transmasculine person will undergo several surgeries to transition from a female to a male. These surgeries can include:
- Chest-masculinisation surgery, or top surgery
A transfeminine person can undergo the following surgeries to transition from a male to a female:
- Feminising augmentation mammoplasty
- Facial-feminisation surgery
- Reduction thyrochondroplasty, or tracheal shave
- Voice-feminisation surgery
There are other surgeries that may be performed during the transition depending on the health and body structure of the transgender person. They will also need to continue a lifelong course of hormone-replacement therapy.
If your friend is about to undergo this long and taxing process, they will need your support. Helping them feel as safe as possible as they undergo their social transition is incredibly important, as is standing up for them in instances of transphobia.
The main thing to do is be there for them when they need it. Be understanding during hormone therapy, as this process can dramatically affect one’s mood. Be available to drive them to the clinic for surgical procedures and then home afterwards, since they may not be able to drive themselves home.
Plastic surgeon Mr. Chris Inglefield has years of experience in transgender procedures and has helped numerous patients transition successfully. A major step in the transition process is meeting with Mr. Inglefield for a consultation. Consultations can be arranged by contacting our office.