Queer Bodies: Surgical Possibilities and Limits

 

Marci Bowers MD, Timo Neider (Netherlands), MD and Guy T’sjoen, MD (Netherlands) presented various insights into the phenomenon of Gender Queer in Bangkok, Thailand in February 2014. Dr. Bowers in particular focused on the emerging gender diversity of individuals no longer defining themselves in a binary gender realm. The concept of maleness and femaleness is blurring as our openness and exploration of self and gender identity unfolds. Particularly evident among Trans* youth, Netrois, ungendered and genderless individuals are seeking aspects of physical gendering (i.e. hormones and surgery) in new and norm-challenging ways.
Dr. Bowers’ presentation was designed to enlighten and shock the audience in identifying stereotypes and biases among the participants in addition to stimulating discussion. Several clinical scenarios were given as hypothetical examples from similar cases in Dr. Bowers’ practice. This included the following:

  • 46 yr old firefighter, cis-gender, male identified, who sought breast augmentation, not on female hormones
  • 42 year old female identified weight lifter, lesbian in sexual orientation, on low dose testosterone, seeking simple Metoidioplasty (clitoral release)
  • 24 yr old male, single and sexually virginal, not on hormones and not seeking transition, seeking vaginoplasty

    Generally, there was support of autonomy from among the audience in the interest of free will. There also seemed to be a slight bias towards allowing more autonomy amongst female persons seeking gender blur versus the rights of natal males to seek a similar direction. fascinating and so much more to learn.

    The surgical perspective is that there is no one answer for any particular situation. We seek first to ‘do no harm’. Reversals or regret from undergoing surgery would be considered ‘doing harm’, in my opinion. That said, so long as a careful psychological evaluation and a thorough informed consent process is outlined, certain of these requests can be reasonably engaged upon. Interestingly, from the examples described above, Dr. Bowers agreed to perform only one of the 3 requests. As I discovered, this may be a reflection of my own earlier biases.