Support Groups for Trans and Gender Non-conforming People Seeking Sex Reassignment Surgery

Dr. Mosser  stresses the importance of all plastic surgery patients having the approval and support of family and friends when choosing to undergo a procedure. Having a support network can have a significant impact on reducing pain and stress, shortening recovery time, and achieving a successful aesthetic surgical result.

For trans and gender non-conforming patients, Dr. Mosser views support before and after surgery as especially important. In the case of FTM “top surgery” chest reconstruction or MTF breast augmentation plastic surgery procedures for  patients seeking to masculinize or feminize physical characteristics in transitioning, support before and after surgery is a necessity.

Sex reassignment surgery (SRS) outcomes are often life changing. The decision to have surgery is often the result of a long and important process of psychological counseling, hormone treatments, and living as a gender other than the one assigned at birth. Emotions and expectations can run high for the outcome of SRS surgery, so access to professional medical support, both mental and physical, is especially important in preparing for surgery.

Note: for a much more comprehensive list of resources around the internet for transgender individuals, please take a look at: https://www.genderconfirmation.com/helpful-links

Professional Support

Gathering enough information to make an informed decision and understanding the risks and benefits of surgery in order to set realistic goals will help ensure a successful outcome. The sources for this category of support include psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors and therapists, social workers, and physicians prescribing and supervising hormone therapy.

Other valuable sources of professional information are online publications of guidelines for care and treatment of gender dysphoria. Refer to publications such as the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) Standards of Care (SOC), Seventh Edition. The entire edition is freely available for viewing on line at www.wpath.org.

Also refer to both the International Classification of Diseases-10, published by the World Health Organization at www.cdc.gov or the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, published by the American Psychiatric Association at www.allpsych.com, both of which offer insight into medical standards of diagnosis and care of GID.

Becoming familiar with the terminology and available treatments will aid in communicating with both professional and non-professional personnel offering support, and can result in a better understanding of what to expect from sex reassignment surgery.

There is also practical information available on the Internet regarding how to initiate treatment and obtain referrals and approvals for treatment. Use the websites of recognized medical organizations to search for physicians, plastic surgeons and mental health care professionals specializing in offering treatment for transgender individuals.

Non-Professional Support

A social network of family and friends is also important for the transgender patient. In many instances, family ties have been strained by lack of understanding and acceptance of transgender family members’ choices and needs. The stress of living with gender dysphoria can also cause emotional issues that require compassionate support to resolve. . The sources for this category of support include loyal family members and friends who have offered strength and encouragement throughout the transition process, community support groups, Internet forums and blogs dedicated to exchanging information and support, and other transgender people who have undergone SRS surgery.

The advent of the Internet has opened channels of information to patients and the people who love, support and offer treatment and care to them in their transitioning process. The Internet is a readily available, inexpensive and invaluable resource. If a private computer is not available, there are many libraries, Internet cafes and schools that offer online service free or for a nominal fee.

Internet forums and blogs are providing information on all aspects of sex and gender transition and the results of sharing information is a better understanding for transpeople as well as the general population. More information translates into higher levels of tolerance and acceptance. As in all Internet surfing, double check sources and use respected websites when collecting facts and statistics.

Sexual Reassignment Surgery Support Group Internet Websites

In addition to the WPATH SOC guidelines and the medical manuals referenced above, there are other reliable support groups and service organizations offering information specifically on plastic surgery for sex reassignment of transgender individuals:

  • Transbucket is a project site set up for individuals to exchange FTM chest reconstruction information, including viewing and posting before and after photos. You must join to use the site but is it free and photos can be posted anonymously. transbucket.com
  • Hudson’s FTM Guide is an educational site with comprehensive and detailed information describing surgery, surgical procedures, costs, benefits and risks and general advice (with the disclaimer that it is not intended to be a medical site). ftmguide.org
  • Transsexual Roadmap, a well-written, comprehensive information website covering every aspect of transsexual MTF life, including surgical procedure descriptions. tsroadmap.com
  • Yahoo Groups FTM Surgery Info is an extensive resource for information, photos and research about surgery options for Female-to-Male transgender people. This group has been operating for more than 10 years. The work of more than 125 surgeons is represented and the group has more than 4400 members worldwide.

Professional websites that review the pros and cons of surgery:

  • Essays and success stories supporting transgender people who have undergone sex reassignment surgery. ai.eecs.umich.edu
  • Transsexual Women’s Success reports, including stories and photos. ai.eecs.umich.edu
  • Transmen’s Success stories and photos. ai.eecs.umich.edu
  • A study emphasizing the how essential follow up care and counseling is for patients after undergoing SRS. plosone.org
  • Comprehensive review of the history of SRS and controversy in various medical fields over the benefits of and/or dangers of sex reassignment surgery as a treatment for gender dysphoria, including a reference source list of clinical studies and reports. susans.org