Wexner Medical Center performs gender-affirming vaginoplasty
After more than three decades of gender dysphoria, Millicent Duke said she was finally comfortable in her body.
Duke, a 34-year-old Columbus, Ohio resident, was the first person to undergo a full ductal vaginoplasty – a fully functional lower surgery to affirm gender – at Wexner Medical Center in the State of L ‘Ohio February 8. After seven months of recovery, she said she was relieved to feel “normal” and safe with herself.
âMost of the time, what I thought before the surgery was just a lot of uncertainty – it was almost like a lack of privacy with my own body,â said Duke. âThat feeling that it was there was on me; I owned these particular parts, but they’ve always been sort of a separate entity for me. “
Duke said she thought the disconnect she felt with her body – called gender dysphoria – was normal because she had lived it all her life and no one had told her otherwise.
Dr Nima Baradaran, a urologist at the medical center who performed Duke’s surgery, said that a vaginoplasty can minimize or eliminate symptoms of gender dysphoria, and he has seen positive reactions from his patients.
âMost of the patients I have interacted with have wanted this surgery for decades,â said Baradaran. âPeople might think this is surgery on a 20 or 30 year old, but it doesn’t have to be. I have a lot of people in their sixties and sixties who have this desire, who want this surgery done. “
Baradaran said Duke’s surgery was the second vaginoplasty performed at the medical center, but the first comprehensive surgery in which patients can choose to have a full canal if they are interested in receptive sex. This type of surgery carries slightly higher risks, such as bleeding and infection. He said he appreciates the confidence the patients have as the medical center continues to perform the procedures.
âWe certainly appreciate that they are open to a new player and collaborate with us to advance the care of our LGBTQ population,â said Baradaran.
Duke said before the day of her surgery she was concerned about going under the knife and the complications that could arise.
“” If I walk away from that, if I let this opportunity pass, will I ever get another? â, Said Duke. “The answer for me was, ‘I don’t know,’ and I wasn’t going to let it go.”
Duke said that as soon as she was checked in and laid on the operating table, her nerves went into excitement for the next chapter in her life.
Baradaran said bringing the procedure to the medical center was a long process for himself and other doctors who have partnered for around two years to perfect it.
âI would say gender affirming surgery is probably the pinnacle of reconstructive surgery,â Baradaran said.
Duke said she believed she couldn’t have passed the recovery process without her “found” family, consisting of her two partners and her child.
She said that although the decision to have the operation may be difficult, she knew she wanted it because she thought about it constantly for years.
âIt’s probably something you’re going to want if you spend so much time thinking about it and researching the process and the different options and who around you can do it and how much it costs,â Duke said. “These are not the thoughts of the cis men.”