US military doctors are reportedly learning how to do facial feminisation surgery with the intention of offering the gender-affirming procedure to transgender troops.
The training reportedly took place at a recent conference of military surgeons at an army medical centre outside of Washington, DC, with army doctors practicing facial feminisation surgery on cadavers.
The technique, a gender-affirming procedure that feminises the face and is sought out by some trans women, has been around for decades.
“It didn’t seem like there was a need for it when I started practice,” plastic and craniofacial surgeon Dr James Bradley, who began performing FFS procedures in 2000, told the New York Post.
Bradley, vice chairman of plastic surgery at New York’s largest healthcare provider, Northwell Health, now does two or three FFS surgeries every week. He says he recently consulted with US military doctors about the technique.
“We’re teaching them how to do it in a cadaver lab,” said Bradley, adding that he feels “very positive that they’re embarking on this”.
Bradley thinks that there may be a higher proportion of transgender people in the military than in the general public, because it attracts disenfranchised Americans – and he claims Army doctors agree with him.
“The surgeons think they see more patients there than in the public,” he said.
FFS consists of certain “base procedures”, like a tracheal shave, and several further procedures that are done on a case-by-case basis, like nose jobs, brow bone reduction and lower jaw reshaping.
“It’s a lot of steps and a lot of equipment,” Bradley explained, adding that it’s followed by a two-week recovery period.
“It’s a big surgery, so the amount of gender dysphoria they must feel to undergo something like this has got to be pretty profound.”
Transgender people were banned from openly serving in the US military by Donald Trump in 2019, though LGBT+ activists are hopeful that days are numbered for the ban, which was imposed in the wake of an infamous Trump tweet-storm in 2017.