Access to Surgery without Surgeons: The Gap in US Trans- Surgical Capacity and What Happens Next

Since 2014, public and private insurance coverage for transgender Americans’ surgical care has increased exponentially. Training clinicians and equipping institutions to meet the surge in patient demand has not been as rapid. Drawing on ethnographic research with clinicians and administrators, this talk examines two challenges facing institutions as they work to build capacity for trans- surgical care: the logistical challenge of training surgeons to do procedures that were excluded from surgical education for decades, and the administrative challenge of integrating the unique process of transgender surgery into existing practice models. These changes are required to transform American trans- surgical care from an ethically contentious practice structured by markets and charisma, into a technocratic one organized by institutional work flows, procedure codes, and insurance claims. I consider the implication of such shifts on the lives and bodies of those anxious to make use of their newly acquired “access” to care. 

Eric Plemons is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology and core faculty in the Transgender Studies Initiative at the University of Arizona.

Co-sponsored by LGBTQ Studies Program, Department Sociology and Anthropology, CORE 152, LGBTQ Initiatives and the Arnold A. Sio Chair in Diversity and Community.

Tuesday, April 2 at 11:30am to 12:30pm

Center for Women's Studies, Lounge

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