The good people at Juno Medicalcontacted me a few weeks ago. As part of their commitment to helping people find the best possible medical care, they were putting together an information package on sex reassignment surgery and they asked me to comment on their package. I was flattered that they should ask me to comment but I explained that I was not a candidate for this surgery and thus had no practical experience to draw on. My regular readers will also know that I have my concerns about what I consider the ‘over medicalisation’ of the transgender experience. I therefore asked for their permission to ask a few of my friends and colleagues who I felt were better qualified than me to pass judgement. They agreed to let me do this.
Sadly, despite asking quite a number of people for comment through e-mail messages and other private correspondence, not a single person assisted. I am not sure what that says about me, my friends or the trans community as a whole but anyway.
I took a look at the guide and I must say it seemed to do a good job. It seems to have approached the subject matter sensitively and respectfully. I realise that it does not address all the politics around nomenclature (sex reassignment vs gender reassignment vs gender or sex affirming surgery etc) but as it is intended as a practical medical guide I think getting side tracked with the politics of language may be less than helpful.
The language used is clear and straight forward and avoids as far as is possible jargon and overly technical language. The guide is very straight forward and non-judgmental without shying away from some of the debates. In the section on ‘who is eligible’ the issue of evolving guidelines and methodologies is raised:
‘It is important to note that the guidelines and requirements for approval for an SRS procedure are constantly shifting and evolving, and vary from country to country. In recent years, many medical professionals in the field have moved towards a more patient-centered, informed consent model.’
I appreciated the way this was done without creating confusion or duress but clearly sating that things are changing and your experiences may therefore differ and that you also therefore have a right to interrogate your medical practitioner/s.
I also liked the fact that both male to female and female to male surgeries were explained. I often see the two camps being dealt with separately and I appreciated the inclusive and balanced approach adopted.
The no-nonsense approach follows through into the section on risks (an area often glossed over by those intent on performing as well as those intent on having the surgery). I personally would have preferred a little more hard data here showing percentages and severity levels but I appreciate that not everyone would want to see or may not even understand such data. I was pleased to see them deal with the ‘bogus’ claims of certain people citing the unhappiness supposedly experienced by some transgender people post surgery, supposedly as a result of them wanting to reverse the procedure.:
‘However, 20-year longitudinal studies conducted by the NHS (National Health Service, England’s publicly funded healthcare provider), have shown that over 96% of patients with genital reconstruction were satisfied with their results.’
The clearly expressed data with respect to expected costs for surgery per country was also illuminating. Although this was obviously done with ‘broad brush’ strokes and is meant as an illustrative cost only. It does however give those planning this surgery an idea of what to expect, where they may want to go and of course some information to compare the prices they are finally quoted with.
If you are interested in reading the guide yourself, please follow the link. I would love to hear any comments or criticisms from those with more knowledge than me and I would be more than happy to pass all such information on to the team at Juno Medical. I will also be posting this as a permanent fixture as part of my ‘resources’ section.
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