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More Americans Having Gender-Affirming Surgery

Apr 18, 2018

More Americans Having Gender-Affirming SurgeryThe number of people undergoing gender-affirming surgery in the United States has increased four-fold since 2000, according to a recent study in JAMA Surgery.

More of those surgeries are now covered by insurance, too.

Gender-affirming surgery is one way to treat gender dysphoria. People with gender dysphoria feel a mismatch between their birth gender and the gender they identify with. For example, a person may be born genetically male, but feel more female.

Many transgender individuals decide to physically transition from their birth gender to their desired gender. The process usually starts with hormone therapy. In younger patients, hormones might be used to suppress puberty. In adults, hormones can help the body develop desired secondary sex characteristics like facial hair or breasts.

Gender-affirming surgery is a next step. During surgery, natal reproductive organs are removed, and organs of the desired gender are created. For instance, the penis may be removed, and a vagina formed. Or, the uterus and ovaries may be removed, and a penis created. Sometimes, other surgeries are performed to make the body look more masculine or feminine.

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