Report: Number of Gender Surgeries Triples from 2016-2019 - The Liz Wheeler Show


Surgeons at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham conduct an operation on June 14, 2006, Birmingham, England.
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The number of gender-affirming surgeries in the United States nearly tripled from 2016 to 2019, according to a recent study published in JAMA Network Open.

The research shows that the number of such surgeries rose from approximately 4,550 in 2016 to around 13,000 in 2019, before slightly dropping in 2020. Importantly, these numbers are believed to be underestimations due to data limitations.

Lead researcher Dr. Jason D. Wright, the chief of gynecologic oncology at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, said, “There’s been a sense that more patients are asking about it, and ultimately pursuing it, but there wasn’t good data.” This study is among the first to quantify the age groups undergoing these procedures and the types of surgeries they’re opting for.

The analysis indicates that a total of approximately 48,000 patients underwent gender-affirming surgeries from 2016 through 2020. The most common procedures were breast and chest surgeries, accounting for roughly 56.6 percent (27,187) of all surgeries. Genital surgeries made up around 35.1 percent (16,872), and facial and cosmetic surgeries constituted about 13.9 percent (6,669).

Just over half of all patients were aged between 19 and 30; about 22 percent were between the ages of 31 and 40, and nearly 8 percent were between the ages of 12 and 18. This means that approximately 3,840 minors underwent gender transition surgeries during this time period.

This surge in gender-affirming surgeries has occurred amidst increasing political debates concerning transition care, especially for minors. Despite these surgeries being endorsed by numerous medical groups, there’s been minimal knowledge about their frequency. The increase in these surgeries was anticipated by health experts due to changes in federal and state laws requiring coverage of transition-related care.

However, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic may have contributed to the slight decline in procedures in 2020. This study only accounts for surgeries taking place in inpatient and ambulatory settings, excluding cases where certain gender-related diagnosis codes were omitted, leading to an under-capture of the real figures.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently reaffirmed its guidelines for gender-affirming treatment but commissioned a fresh review of the research after European health authorities found uncertain evidence for its effectiveness.


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