The first-ever report of its kind from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons has found that gender confirmation surgeries on the rise in the U.S.
According to the new ASPS data, there was a nearly 20% increase in these surgeries from 2015 to 2016. In 2016, more than 3,200 gender confirmation surgeries were performed.
Gender confirmation procedures can involve anything from facial and body contouring to reassignment surgery. Loren Schechter, MD, a board-certified plastic surgeon in Chicago, said in a statement that since gender transitions include more than surgery, plastic surgeons often work with other experts to provide with their patients with the most comprehensive care possible.
"There is no one-size-fits all treatment, and no one discipline can meet all the needs of an individual," Dr. Schechter said. "For example, plastic surgeons work with doctors who specialize in hormone therapy [or] urology and with mental health professionals who help patients through the emotional aspects of their transition."
ASPS experts said that better access to care has helped trans patients seek help from plastic surgeons, but Randi Kaufman, a clinical psychologist for the Gender and Family Project at the Ackerman Institute for the Family, told USA Today that an increased representation of trans men and women in media could also be contributing to the rise in surgeries.
"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 told USA Today.
However, Kaufman also reiterated that being transgender isn't just about surgery — some may choose not to undergo gender confirmation procedures at all, and that doesn't take away from their identities in any way.
"For some people [surgery is] very important and for some it's not important at all," she told USA Today. "It's who you are inside your identity, it doesn’t really matter what your body looks like or genitals."
Gearah Goldstein, a patient who worked with Dr. Schechter for her confirmation surgery, said in a statement shared with Refinery29 that her procedure helped her to feel as if she can live her life as the person she's always been.
"For transgender people, like myself, surgical options are a corrective treatment, not cosmetic," Goldstein said. "The types of surgeries someone has is very personal and private, and you wouldn’t even know someone had surgery if you saw them walking down the street. It’s not about how we’re perceived by the public, but how we perceive ourselves."
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