Understanding Gender & Gender Affirming Procedures

Our view and understanding of gender is continually expanding. In Western culture, we once understood gender as a binary that aligned with the sex assigned at birth. Today, younger generations especially have embraced a view of gender that is more inclusive, seeing gender as a spectrum rather than a binary and moving away from rigid gender roles.

At the Deschamps-Braly Clinic, we specialize in gender-affirming procedures including facial feminization surgery (FFS), facial masculinization surgery (FMS), and non-surgical feminization and masculinization. As such, our team values gender diversity, learning more about gender and doing all we can to respect and honor our transgender, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming patients. If you are the loved one of an FFS or FMS patient or simply want to learn more about gender, you can continue reading for a brief overview.

Three Dimensions of Gender

Some people may use the terms “sex” and “gender” interchangeably, but there are key differences between the two. Understanding that sex and gender are different is the first step in understanding and breaking down the three dimensions of gender.

The first dimension of gender is the body. Most cultures view sex as a binary, distinguishing between male and female. Traditionally, Western culture has assigned gender in accordance with the biological sex of the body. This simplification can create issues for transgender people, who may feel incongruence between their gender and body, as well as intersex people.

The second dimension of gender is identity. This is our internal experience of our gender, which is usually established around age four. Naming one’s gender identity can be a complex process as we use limited language and continually discover new things about ourselves. An individual’s understanding and labeling of their own identity can evolve if they discover a new language which better explains their internal identity. From the outside perspective, this may include things like changing pronouns or names.

The third dimension is social gender. Social gender includes the way that we express and communicate our gender to others through our clothing, mannerisms, and other facets of our outward presentation. It can also include the ways we interact with or are perceived by society, including the roles we fill. Social gender can include things like activities, children’s toys, family roles, and more.

How Plastic Surgery Can Affirm Gender

Plastic surgery can help patients feel an increased sense of gender congruence or the feeling of harmony regarding our gender. Gender congruence is a sense of comfort in our bodies regarding our gender presentation and confidence in naming our gender. Not all transgender, nonbinary, or gender non-conforming people will feel the need to change their bodies, but for those who do, plastic surgery can provide a sense of relief and newfound confidence.

While we usually think of binary transgender patients when it comes to gender-affirming procedures, nonbinary and even cisgender patients may feel an improved sense of gender congruence after a surgery. For example, a procedure may be chosen to create a more androgynous look for some patients. A cisgender patient can also choose a procedure to create a more traditionally masculine or feminine look. Consider, for example, a cisgender man choosing a chin implant or a cisgender woman choosing forehead reduction. These patients may not experience gender dysphoria or gender transition, but they may still undergo plastic surgery for reasons related to their gender identity.

Schedule a Consultation

If you are interested in FFS or FMS, schedule a consultation with Dr. Deschamps-Braly. Call our San Francisco office at +1-415-877-6585.

+ posts

Dr. Deschamps-Braly is a board-certified plastic and craniofacial surgeon specializing in facial plastic surgery, orthognathic (jaw) surgery, and craniofacial surgery for adults and children. He is also one of the world’s foremost leaders and innovators in facial gender confirmation surgery.