Gender conversion surgery, more commonly referred to as gender confirmation surgery or sex reassignment surgery, is a medical procedure or set of procedures that transgender individuals may choose to undergo as part of their transition. This involves changing the physical sex characteristics of an individual to more closely align with their gender identity.

These surgeries can be broadly divided into two types, depending on the direction of transition:

  1. Male-to-Female (MTF) Transition: This can include a variety of procedures such as:
    • Vaginoplasty: The creation of a vagina using penile tissue. Sometimes, scrotal tissue or skin grafts from other areas of the body are also used.
    • Breast Augmentation: This can be opted for if hormone replacement therapy does not lead to the desired breast development.
    • Facial Feminization Surgery: A set of reconstructive surgical procedures that alter typically male facial features to bring them closer in shape and size to typical female facial features.
    • Voice Surgery: Some may choose to undergo surgery to alter their vocal pitch.
  2. Female-to-Male (FTM) Transition: This can also include various procedures such as:
    • Mastectomy or “Top Surgery”: Removal of breast tissue to create a male-contoured chest.
    • Hysterectomy: The removal of the uterus.
    • Phalloplasty or Metoidioplasty: Surgical procedures to construct a penis. Phalloplasty involves the use of skin grafts to create a penis, while metoidioplasty involves the modification of the clitoris (which is enlarged through hormone treatment) to create a penis.

It’s important to understand that not all transgender individuals choose or are able to undergo surgery. The decision to have gender confirmation surgery is deeply personal and may depend on a variety of factors including personal comfort, financial capacity, health considerations, and more.

Furthermore, these surgeries are typically performed only after a period of psychological evaluation and after hormone replacement therapy. Patients often live as their identified gender full-time for at least a year, a period sometimes referred to as “real-life experience,” before undergoing these surgeries.

These surgeries can have significant physical and emotional impacts, so they should be undertaken with the support of medical professionals, including mental health professionals who have experience with transgender health issues. As with any major surgery, there are risks involved, and these should be discussed thoroughly with healthcare providers.