Cock Talk (Part 1)

March 20, 2013 in inQueery

Zander Keig gave his presentation, Cock Talk, to a packed Cal classroom on a cool Saturday afternoon. And talk about cocks he certainly did. His presentation at the Transgender Law Center’s Weekend Summit was one of many that aimed to raise awareness of the health, legal, and social issues that are pertinent to the transgender community.

Certainly, there exist many different transgender experiences and, for some, part of the journey of understanding and expressing one’s gender identity includes anatomical changes. At Cock Talk, Keig, a medical social worker, shared his experiences and unique insights into pursuing and successfully completing some of such transformations. As one of many options, surgical procedures can provide for some the choice to alter their anatomy in a way that aligns with the way they experience their gender.

Procedural Considerations
The transgender community is diverse in perspective; accordingly, people pursue varying methods of expressing their gender identity. Here, surgical procedures are considered as one option for those who elect to alter their anatomy as part of their transgender journey. Altering genetilia is a frequent procedure in North America, with over 1,100 procedures performed annually in the US (Horton). According to The World Professional Association for Transgender Health, there are many procedures available that can lead to a variety of anatomical changes to an individual’s body. There are “top” procedures wherein breast tissue is either augmented (e.g. mammoplasty) or removed (e.g. subcutaneous mastectomy). There are “bottom” procedures wherein the genital tissue is reconstructed to transform genitalia into something desired by the individual. There are also surgical interventions unrelated to breast or genital tissues that allow for alterations in facial features, the sound of the voice, and various other possible aesthetic concerns (Coleman et al.).

It is important to note that the intended anatomical changes reflect a broader medicalization of transsexuality (Heyes), wherein a rigid and patriarchal gender binary is believed to be associated with biological structures. For some, this is the desired outcome; while for others, their identity is not necessarily associated with a biological structuring or conceptualization of gender.

For Keig, part of his transgender journey included some of these procedures. When considering among all of the varying surgical options and all of the potential care providers, Keig shared his happiness about the process. He underwent “top surgery” with San Francisco surgeon, Dr. Michael Brownstein in 2006 and “bottom surgery” with Scottsdale, AZ surgeon, Dr. Toby Meltzer in 2008. Brownstein was local for Keig at the time and was considered one of the most experienced chest reconstruction surgeons in the US. Additionally, Keig is especially proud to have had surgery with the same surgeon as the transgender pioneer Lou Sullivan. Beyond Meltzer’s qualifications, the insurance coverage provided through NCAL Kaiser Permanente made this procedure possible.

Jonathan Baio is a guest contributor at InQueery and studies Chemical Biology at UC Berkeley.
You can follow Jon’s personal and business ramblings on Google+

Anne Mitchell is a Staff Writer at InQueery.
You can follow Anne Mitchell’s personal and business ramblings on Twitter at @anniebovine