Understanding gender confirmation surgery

Dr. Johanna Olson unravels the complex subject of gender confirmation surgery by explaining the key steps and phases of the process.
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Understanding gender confirmation surgery

So some transgender people would choose to undergo surgeries in order to continues the process to align their body with their gender identity. But not all transgender do that. And I think that's really important for people to know that surgery is not the end point for many many people. The most common surgery for transgender guys, young men or men is top surgery. That's male chest reconstruction surgery and it's done in a number of different ways. but it really is just about getting rid of the breast tissue and constructing a male chest. It's a little more complicated to get bottom surgery, phaloplasty. there are several surgical techniques to create male genitals. But they are complicated and they are expensive. So they are not as commonly pursued by trans-men. For trans women, it's not uncommon for trans women to want to have breast augmentation. For young people who are starting later in the process and have already gone well through puberty those young people are going to require additional surgeries more so then people who have transitioned earlier; who have gone through natural puberty at a younger age. So breast augmentation is not uncommon and then vaginoplasty, which is the creation of neo-vagina or new vagina is also something that some trans-women pursue in this country as well as around the world. As far as the age that young people can pursue surgeries related to their gender confirmation - there are many surgeons around the country who do top surgery and people who are under 18. But genital surgery has traditionally been withheld until the age of 18. Primarily because of reproductive reasons. There are some laws around performing surgeries that would render somebody infertile. But I think that's changing as well. There are few surgeon around the country that would do a vaginal, neo-vagina or vaginoplasty surgeries on people that are younger than 18.

Dr. Johanna Olson unravels the complex subject of gender confirmation surgery by explaining the key steps and phases of the process.


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Johanna Olson, MD

Medical Director, Center for Transyouth Health and Development, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

Johanna Olson, MD is a pediatrician in the Division of Adolescent Medicine at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and Medical Director of the hospital’s Center for Transyouth Health and Development.  She specializes in the care of transgender youth, gender variant children, youth with HIV, and chronic pain. Board certified in Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Dr. Olson is also an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. She has appeared on ABC's 20/20, The Dr. Phil Show, CNN, Dateline NBC and The Doctors to educate audiences about the needs of transgender youth.

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