While the field of facial feminization surgery is relatively young, the concept of facial gender or sexual dimorphism has been studied for centuries.
This has its benefits, but it has also resulted in several widely held misconceptions about what makes a face feminine and how to feminize a masculine face. The best facial feminization surgeons today have challenged these by presenting advancements in the field.
Fortunately, a handful of these facial gender surgeons have spent years exposing these assumptions, applied in real life cases of transgender women seeking to make their faces appear more feminine. Facial gender analyst, Alexandra Hamer, is an artist and virtual FFS expert who has nearly 15 years of experience digitally simulating facial feminization on photos of more than 1000 real faces. Her work has included participating in thousands of face-to-face consultations alongside FACIALTEAM surgeons. She has devoted much of her time to researching the concept of facial sexual dimorphism from the ground up and publishes her findings on her website.
Here, we’ve summarized some of her most important findings, which are key to understanding how today’s best FFS surgeons approach their craft (as you will see, this is as much an art as it is a science).
Facial feminization: “the big picture”
First and foremost, Hamer emphasizes the importance of looking at the big picture rather than seeing the face as a collection of small details that operate independently. The truth is that many facial features are so closely related that trying to feminize them without looking at the broader context and proportions of the face will almost certainly lead to less than satisfactory results.
Her research also highlights the crucial difference between what is “technically masculinizing” and what actually seems masculine to the human brain. Without taking a big picture approach, it is possible for patients and surgeons to focus obsessively on a particular feature that, in the grand scheme of things, doesn’t actually make a significant difference.
Not all masculinities require FFS surgery
Another key finding in Hamer’s research is the relative subjective importance of different masculine traits – in other words, the traits which the human brain instinctively registers as being gender markers, and those which do not significantly affect our perception of a person’s gender. For example, she has found that the jaw, a very common target in conventional FFS surgery, is far less important for facial femininity than, say, chin shape.
Understanding which facial features are masculinizing (as opposed to which are technically masculine) can provide much more natural results and save the patient from unnecessary surgeries.
The philosophy of today’s best facial feminization surgeons
The best facial feminization surgeons today have set aside the old paradigms and separated the concepts of beautification and feminization in a highly personalized approach that assesses each patient’s face as unique – because it is.
We know now that there is no “one size fits all” facial feminization method; however, it is true that every face has an underlying femininity. As Hamer points out in her research, male and female faces are essentially indistinguishable before puberty. During puberty, hormonal changes trigger the addition of masculinizing traits, while female faces remain relatively unchanged.
The ultimate goal of FFS surgery, then, must be to “eliminate the masculine” to reveal the feminine face that is already there. In this way, the best facial feminization surgeons are able to give their patients the most natural results possible through the ideal treatment plan for each individual. You should still be you, and your face should still be your face – just the feminine version of your face, the one that you should have had all along.