Gender Confirmation Surgery (GCS)

What is Gender Confirmation Surgery?

Gender confirmation surgery (GCS), known clinically as genitoplasty, are procedures that surgically confirm a person's gender by altering the genitalia and other physical features to align with their desired physical characteristics. Gender confirmation surgeries are also called gender affirmation procedures. These are both respectful terms.

Gender dysphoria, an experience of misalignment between gender and sex, is becoming more widely diagnosed. People diagnosed with gender dysphoria are often referred to as "transgender," though one does not necessarily need to experience gender dysphoria to be a member of the transgender community. It is important to note there is controversy around the gender dysphoria diagnosis. Many disapprove of it, noting that the diagnosis suggests that being transgender is an illness.

types of gender confirmation surgeries

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Transfeminine Transition

Transfeminine is a term inclusive of trans women and non-binary trans people assigned male at birth.

Gender confirmation procedures that a transfeminine person may undergo include:

  • Penectomy is the surgical removal of external male genitalia.
  • Orchiectomy is the surgical removal of the testes.
  • Vaginoplasty is the surgical creation of a vagina.
  • Feminizing genitoplasty creates internal female genitalia.
  • Breast implants create breasts.
  • Gluteoplasty increases buttock volume.
  • Chondrolaryngoplasty is a procedure on the throat that can minimize the appearance of Adam's apple.

Feminizing hormones are commonly used for at least 12 months prior to breast augmentation to maximize breast growth and achieve a better surgical outcome. They are also often used for approximately 12 months prior to feminizing genital surgeries.

Facial feminization surgery (FFS) is often done to soften the lines of the face. FFS can include softening the brow line, rhinoplasty (nose job), smoothing the jaw and forehead, and altering the cheekbones. Each person is unique and the procedures that are done are based on the individual's need and budget,

Transmasculine Transition

Transmasculine is a term inclusive of trans men and non-binary trans people assigned female at birth.

Gender confirmation procedures that a transmasculine person may undergo include:

  • Masculinizing genitoplasty is the surgical creation of external genitalia. This procedure uses the tissue of the labia to create a penis.
  • Phalloplasty is the surgical construction of a penis using a skin graft from the forearm, thigh, or upper back.
  • Metoidioplasty is the creation of a penis from the hormonally enlarged clitoris.
  • Scrotoplasty is the creation of a scrotum.

Procedures that change the genitalia are performed with other procedures, which may be extensive.

The change to a masculine appearance may also include hormone therapy with testosterone, a mastectomy (surgical removal of the breasts), hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus), and perhaps additional cosmetic procedures intended to masculinize the appearance.

Paying For Gender Confirmation Surgery

Medicare and some health insurance providers in the United States may cover a portion of the cost of gender confirmation surgery.

It is unlawful to discriminate or withhold healthcare based on sex or gender. However, many plans do have exclusions.

For most transgender individuals, the burden of financing the procedure(s) is the main difficulty in obtaining treatment. The cost of transitioning can often exceed $100,000 in the United States, depending upon the procedures needed.

A typical genitoplasty alone averages about $18,000. Rhinoplasty, or a nose job, averaged $5,409 in 2019.

Traveling Abroad for GCS

Some patients seek gender confirmation surgery overseas, as the procedures can be less expensive in some other countries. It is important to remember that traveling to a foreign country for surgery, also known as surgery tourism, can be very risky.

Regardless of where the surgery will be performed, it is essential that your surgeon is skilled in the procedure being performed and that your surgery will be performed in a reputable facility that offers high-quality care.

Choosing a Surgeon

When choosing a surgeon, it is important to do your research, whether the surgery is performed in the U.S. or elsewhere. Talk to people who have already had the procedure and ask about their experience and their surgeon.

Before and after photos don't tell the whole story, and can easily be altered, so consider asking for a patient reference with whom you can speak.

It is important to remember that surgeons have specialties and to stick with your surgeon's specialty. For example, you may choose to have one surgeon perform a genitoplasty, but another to perform facial surgeries. This may result in more expenses, but it can result in a better outcome.

A Word From Verywell

Gender confirmation surgery is very complex, and the procedures that one person needs to achieve their desired result can be very different from what another person wants.

Each individual's goals for their appearance will be different. For example, one individual may feel strongly that breast implants are essential to having a desirable and feminine appearance, while a different person may not feel that breast size is a concern. A personalized approach is essential to satisfaction because personal appearance is so highly individualized.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Davy Z, Toze M. What is gender dysphoria? A critical systematic narrative review. Transgend Health. 2018;3(1):159-169. doi:10.1089/trgh.2018.0014

  2. Morrison SD, Vyas KS, Motakef S, et al. Facial Feminization: Systematic Review of the Literature. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2016;137(6):1759-70. doi:10.1097/PRS.0000000000002171

  3. Hadj-moussa M, Agarwal S, Ohl DA, Kuzon WM. Masculinizing Genital Gender Confirmation Surgery. Sex Med Rev. 2019;7(1):141-155. doi:10.1016/j.sxmr.2018.06.004

  4. Dowshen NL, Christensen J, Gruschow SM. Health Insurance Coverage of Recommended Gender-Affirming Health Care Services for Transgender Youth: Shopping Online for Coverage Information. Transgend Health. 2019;4(1):131-135. doi:10.1089/trgh.2018.0055

  5. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Rhinoplasty nose surgery.

Additional Reading

By Jennifer Whitlock, RN, MSN, FN
Jennifer Whitlock, RN, MSN, FNP-C, is a board-certified family nurse practitioner. She has experience in primary care and hospital medicine.