What is gender-affirming surgery?

Gender-Affirming Surgery

What are the medical options for gender affirmation?

Medical options for gender affirmation include:

  • Hormone therapy. This is medicine to help increase or decrease sex characteristics. For example:
    • You may take testosterone to develop more masculine physical traits. These include hair growth on the face and body.
    • You may take estrogen to develop more feminine physical traits. These include breast development and a change in where body fat is stored. You may also take a medicine that blocks testosterone (anti-androgen) or a hormone called progestin.
  • Puberty blockers. These are medicines that block the hormones that cause body changes during puberty. They can delay development of physical traits that don't match your gender identity.
  • Surgery. There are different surgeries that can change the look and the function of your body. They can help your body match your gender identity.

What is gender-affirming surgery?

Gender-affirming surgery is a procedure that changes the look and function of your body. There are many kinds of gender-affirming surgery. They make your body more closely match your gender identity. Some people choose surgery. Some don't. It's up to you to decide if it will be part of your gender affirmation.

What do you need to know before deciding about gender-affirming surgery?

There's no right or wrong way to affirm your gender. Some people choose surgery. Some don't. It's different for everyone. Here are some things to think about.

Know your reasons for having surgery

Take the time to understand who you are and why you want surgery. Think about the long-term impact on your social, family, and work lives.

Your decision to have surgery may be based on:

  • Your goals, your needs, and what you expect.
  • Your health and body type.
  • Cost and insurance coverage.
  • Recovery time.
  • Your feelings about the risks.

Get the facts about surgery

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Surgery may only be possible after you've had hormone therapy.
  • Bottom surgery can affect your ability to have a biological child. Talk with your doctor about your reproductive goals.
  • Surgeons use different techniques. Ask to see pictures of people after their surgery.
  • You may be able to combine surgeries. But it may also be too much stress on the body to combine certain ones.
  • Going through surgery can be challenging for both your body and your emotions. But it's rare that people regret doing it.

Build a support network

Try to connect with people online or in person who've been through surgery.

Try to surround yourself with as much love and support as you can.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.