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How to pick the right surgeon for your transition

by Andrew Adams

Welcome back to Andrew’s phalloplasty adventure! This is part 2 of a currently unfinished series, so if you are new here, go back and read the first part of the series where I go over what bottom surgery is and some of the options that exist for transgender people who were assigned female at birth. In this installment, I’m going to go over how to choose a surgeon once you know what kind of procedures you want included in your bottom surgery journey.

Picking a surgeon, surgery team, and surgery clinic can be one of the most intimidating parts of the planning for surgery process. Fortunately, with a few questions and some research, you can find a place that works for your surgery goals, timeline, and means. When I started this process, the first thing I did was join a few groups on Facebook for transgender men and transmasculine people looking for bottom surgery. Looking through the posts in these groups gave me an idea of the surgeons and clinics out there, along with personal anecdotes about people’s experiences with various surgeons. This information was crucial for me deciding who to go to. Other places to start your research include trans reddit and Google. I recommend making a list of options with their locations to start, or if you enjoy spreadsheets, this would be a good time to start a spreadsheet for this information.

Once you have a list of options, start really looking into each one. Confirm that they do the procedures you are looking to have done, look on their website for information about insurance and surgery requirements, and look through the surgical results that most surgeons have on their website. If you can’t find the information you are looking for, calling their front desk might be beneficial. Plug all of this information into your list or spreadsheet for when you need to make your decision. Then, I would look up the surgeon in the bottom surgery facebook group. This will show you other people’s experiences with that surgeon. Do not skip this step, as you may learn things that you need to know, like if one surgeon has a lot of lawsuits pending, or if a clinic has an absurdly long waitlist. You may also consider posting in one of these groups asking for people’s experience or knowledge on one or more surgeons, especially if one of your concerns or questions hasn’t been asked before. Your post will be helpful for someone in your position in the future, so feel free to ask.

Since I want urethral lengthening included in my surgery, and I am not willing to leave the United States, my options were limited. There are plenty of surgeons who will make the actual phallus and stick it on you, but not very many who will do the urological connection, as that is the part with the most risks of complications. The options I had included Dr. Chen in San Francisco CA, The Crane Center (several surgeons) in Austin TX and San Francisco CA, Dr Berli at OSHU’s clinic in Oregon, and Dr Coon in Boston. There are surgeons who will do what I want in other places, including one in Miami who I didn’t know about until long after I had made my initial decision and started the process with my chosen clinic, but I struggled to find experiences of other trans people having their surgeries with them, so I decided to go with the really well known and reputable groups.

I ended up choosing The Crane Center, thinking that Texas is closer to where I live than the other options (I live in Florida), and because they had a shorter waitlist than Dr Chen, who’s waitlist is several years long at the time of writing this. Additionally, I really like the results of The Crane Center, and there are tons of other people who have gone to them in the Facebook groups who really liked their experience with them.

After choosing a surgeon, you can schedule a consultation with them to actually meet and talk directly with them. If you are undecided, you can schedule multiple consults with multiple surgeons until you feel more comfortable making a decision. My consultation with the Crane Center was in April, about a month after I initially reached out to the clinic to schedule it, and it was $250. I cannot speak on the consult fees of other practices, but I recommend not booking consults with more than two or three surgeons because of those fees.

The next post will be about the consultation itself, how to prepare for it, and what to expect. If you have questions about the process or want me to go through it in more detail or more similarly to your situation, feel free to reach out at @andrewcodyadams on twitter and instagram. Have a great day!

About the Author

Andrew (he/him) is a transgender student at the University of Central Florida where he is studying psychology in the hopes of becoming a therapist. He is a peer mentor for at risk teenagers at Aspire Health Partners, and he enjoys gardening, taking care of several pet reptiles, playing the piano, and replaying Skyrim on X-Box. While he has focused on his own growth and wellbeing recently, he has previously worked or volunteered with The Trevor Project, Point of Pride, GLSEN, March For Our Lives, and for local political campaigns as an advocate for LGBTQ rights. Specifically, he also is the plaintiff in an ongoing legal battle against his high school who barred him from using the men’s bathroom due to him being transgender, and that legal battle is still ongoing (See Adams v. St John’s County School Board). Additionally, as an Autistic ADHDer with a connective tissue disorder, Andrew is an advocate for both neurodiversity and disability rig.



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