Growing up as a transgender person can be frightening, which is why gender change surgery has provided a liberating experience for so many. In some cases, the people feel shame because of the disconnect between the sexual identity they feel and the body in which they live. As they develop some more sophisticated idea about their own identity, they start to feel as though they are imprisoned inside a body that in the most important way is not their own.
While transgender people are a small minority of the general population, estimates indicate that there are about 1 million of them in the United States at any given time. Because of a number of factors (finances, fear, lack of knowledge among others), only about 100 to 500 gender change surgery procedures take place on an annual basis, according to the Surgery Encyclopedia, within the United States. More take place in Thailand, though, which has one of the world’s biggest transgender populations. In fact, Thailand even recognizes a third gender known as “kathoey” — effeminate men. Also, the costs have historically been lower there than they have been elsewhere.
The prohibitive costs in the United States have been a major factor in keeping gender change surgery numbers down. However, positive change is coming in this area. In the past, insurance carriers have not covered any of these procedures, claiming that gender dysphoria (or gender identity disorder, as it used to be known) was a pre-existing medical condition — and therefore grounds for denial of coverage. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, though, insurers can no longer deny coverage on the basis of pre-existing conditions. Also, the acceptance in the medical community that gender dysphoria (that sensation of having a different sexual identity than what one biologically presents to the world) is not a disorder has changed attitudes as well. Currently, federal law prohibits discrimination against transgender persons, and so insurance coverage is helping reduce the costs for many of the procedures associated with gender change surgery.
There are many different gender change surgery options, ranging from genital reconstruction (“bottom” surgery) to chest/breast area alterations (“top” surgery) to cosmetic procedures that change facial appearance — and even surgeries to the vocal cords and the throat to alter the sound of the patient’s voice to match his or her new identity.
While the number of gender change surgery procedures per year appears to remain fairly low, particularly in comparison with the estimated number of transgender persons in the United States, as more people learn about transgender issues — and as the negative stereotypes that have haunted transgender persons continue to dissipate — those numbers will continue to go up. More and more medical students are pursuing gender change surgery as a specialization as well. Sexchangeoperation.net provides transgender persons with a considerable amount of information about the entire transition process as well as listings and reviews of providers in their area — of everything from psychotherapy to hormone replacement therapy to the various surgical options that are out there.