“Tootsie.” “Mrs. Doubtfire.” “Bosom Buddies.” Dressing up as the other gender was once the stuff cheap laughs were made of, but that’s quickly changing.
Caitlyn Jenner and Lavern Cox are two big names with big stories to tell. Both male-to-female transsexuals, they’ve recently pushed gender identity issues into the limelight.
“I think people are starting to wake up,” said Dr. Sheldon Lincenberg. The Mayo Clinic trained, board certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon brings more than 25 years of experience to Georgia Plastic Surgery.
Many transgender people wait nearly a lifetime for their Cinderella moment where they can step out and be the person they feel they are meant to be.
One Year Waiting Period
It’s important to know the change doesn’t happen overnight. Dr. Pat McGuire suggests both male and female patients live in their new chosen gender identities for a year, complete with hormone therapy and psychological counseling.
“They have to realize this is permanent, so they need to be counseled appropriately by a medical health professional who is experienced in dealing with gender identity issues,” she says.
The board-certified plastic surgeon and clinical instructor of surgery at Washington University School of Medicine specializes in breast augmentation and other surgical and non surgical modalities at Parkcrest Plastic Surgery in St. Louis, Missouri.
Altering the Body
The first stop on the long road of transitioning is often the feminizing or masculinizing the chest. Some will then go on to contour their faces, while only a small percentage change their genitals.
While surgery is often the focal point, finding the right surgeon for the patient is equally as important.
Pairing Patient and Surgeon
Dr. McGuire stresses patients should seek out a compassionate surgeon and be open about what they want and their goals so the two can make a game plan.
Dr. Lincenberg echoed the sentiment: “As long as their goals are realistic, I’m fully rewarded in helping the patient.”
Transitioning is often a learning process for the patient, but it’s also one, too, for the doctor.
“One thing I’ve learned is to accept everyone as they are. These patients are really just like all the rest of us and there’s no reason to judge them. Allow them to live their lives,” says McGuire. “If I can help them be the person they want to be, it’s a very gratifying procedure.”
When it comes time for a patient’s own ball (a wedding, perhaps?), a successful surgery and can lead to a magical night.
“One of my clients invited me to his wedding. He was a female-to-male transgender. And we were seated at this very elegant wedding with his parents, her parents, and us as the only people in the room who knew the reality of his gender,” said Dr. Lincenberg. “It was truly incredible to be included in the celebration!”