The Facial Gender Institute
The complete integration and recognition of transgender people as a group with full rights is one of the last battles in the fight for human rights and we will certainly witness this scenario in the next few years. Transgender health must begin to adhere to protocols that cover any and all possible fields of action (psychological, paediatric, endocrinological and surgical in its different disciplines). It must not become a bastion of marginal patients, but rather take its place within the network of psychological and medical disciplines. There is still a long way to go before this goal is reach, and work is required to raise public awareness and educate society, depathologize the phenomenon of transgenderism and train professionals in the field.
The protocol for trans health already has some well-established steps, such as the importance of taking a psychological approach and the need for appropriate hormone therapy. Heretofore undisputed concepts such as the importance of genital reconstruction in this protocol (which belongs to the individual’s private sphere), have started to give way to more important underlying questions like the importance of facial gender reassignment in patients who are going to play a gender role in society different to the one they were born with. Transgender patients across the world are increasingly beginning to request surgical reassignment of facial gender although, unfortunately, they often cannot find centres to meet their needs appropriately. Why? Because it is impossible to treat that which is not known.
Generally speaking, the issues related to facial gender exist in a vacuum, an empty space that must be filled with firm and clear principles resulting from a methodical scientific study of the question. Only when the bases of facial gender recognition are understood from its many perspectives (medical, surgical, psychological, anthropological and sociological) will it be possible to provide answers to questions that have to date not been asked or been deemed unimportant. These include: What is the difference between a man’s face and a woman’s face? Is facial gender conditioned by age and race? Is facial gender important in society today? How can facial gender be modified? There is no doubt that society as a whole will benefit from these answers, and the transgender community even more.
This pioneering facial feminization project was recently launched by FACIALTEAM. The Facial Gender Institute is an independent research center whose primary mission is to establish the scientific bases for the recognition of facial gender, in addition to disseminating the different projects and studies done in the field.
From a very early age, everyone is able to recognize whether a face is male or female, long before learning about genital differences. The perception of gender through facial features occurs in a single glance, involuntarily and definitively. While other parts of the body can be hidden, camouflaged or exaggerated to appear more feminine, it is difficult to express female facial features without the appropriate surgical reassignment of facial gender. It is for this reason that an individual in the process of transitioning from man to woman may want this surgery in order to modify their face and better integrate into society, the workplace and the family. Facial Gender Confirmation Surgery is generating considerable interest among transwomen. Psychologically, it can be as important as genital reconstruction. The key to achieving a highly satisfactory result in facial feminization usually begins with meticulous planning prior to surgery and the correct choice of each technique, so that it best meets the patient’s needs. Planning the treatment is based on a detailed clinical evaluation, diagnostic imaging (computerized tomography (CT) scans and cephalometry), anthropometric measurements, photographs, artist studies and the evaluation of the patient. Clearly, then, a basic premise of this surgery is having access to exhaustive, up-to-date and scientific information about facial gender identity.
In addition, part of the project includes the TransHealth Initiative, a program to promote the exchange of information with other leading professionals in Gender Reassignment Surgery in order to raise the standards of trans healthcare globally. To date, four TransHealth Initiative Workshops have been celebrated. Firstly, with cofounder of the initiative, Dr. Preecha of Thailand, along with representatives of the Okayama Gender Unit of Japan (focused on Gender Confirmation Surgery). Secondly, with Dr. Esben Esther Benestad of Norway, to discuss FFS in relation to sexology. The third Workshop was celebrated with Dr. Marci Bowers of California, with whom we shared her vast expertise in genital surgery. And finally, with Prof. Stan Monstrey and the Belgium Public Gender Unit professionals.
The workshop series is an ongoing effort to bring together health professionals in transgender care for a common purpose: innovation and advancement in services aimed at improving the quality of life for members of the transgender community. The Facial Gender Institute’s directing role in this project is to raise awareness about modern approaches to facial feminization within the healthcare sector, therefore increasing visibility of the needs of transgender women in the LGBT sector.
The Facial Gender Institute is extremely excited about the addition of the new director, Facial Gender specialist Alexandra Hamer, with the desire to develop the latest in advanced facial gender studies. To keep up to date with the activities and events, visit www.thefacialgenderinstitute.com