From All Over: GenderNews Posted
July 13

Via Gender Advocacy Internet News(GAIN),

This article appeared in the Gay People's Chronicle on June 5, 1998. You can reach the Chronicle at P.O. Box 5426, Cleveland, Ohio 44101
216-631-8646   Fax: 216-631-1082   Email:

Pittsburgh Trans Doctor Opens
Sex Reassignment Clinic

by Dawn Leach

Pittsburgh, Penn.-- For Ohioans contemplating sex reassignment surgery, the complex process just got a little easier. Until May, transsexuals had to travel across the country or to Canada to get genital surgery. Now, those procedures are available at a clinic in neighboring Pennsylvania.

The May 1 opening of the Transgender Surgical and Medical Center in Pittsburgh also marks another first: Center director Dr. Sheila Kirk is the first transgender physician to offer genital reassignment surgery.

Vanessa Murray of the International Foundation for Gender Education, in Massachusetts, said that Kirk's experience of making her own gender transition is valuable to her patients.

"It's very hard for a non-transgender person to understand the significance of the transgendered gift to a person," Murray said. "To have the physician be transgender also, that's powerful."

Murray said that Kirk's empathy will allow her to make a more accurate assessment of patients' needs, reducing the possibility of misdiagnosis.

"She is competent, very caring about this community, and does this from a love for the community," Murray said.

Kirk hopes to pave the way for others. As the center expands, Kirk plans to find qualified transgender professionals to fill new positions as they open up.

"Trans-professionals caring for trans people through all facets of their gender journey should be the norm, not the exception," Kirk said. "We can offer a lot more to them in the way of empathy. That may be subtle, but it's important in terms of empathizing with what a person is trying to do."

In the first month of its existence, in addition to treating patients, the center has answered a large volume of inquiries for information about the procedures it offers. Kirk said that the center's staff will work closely with patients' local physicians and mental health professionals to be sure that they are getting the care that is most appropriate for them.

"A lot of individuals may masculinize or feminize, and may never move toward the final step of genital surgery, and I think that's perfectly fine," Kirk said.

"In terms of really when an individual does move toward genital reassignment--when you take that step, you really have crossed over, and for that step I need good agreements that that individual is a good candidate for that surgical step."

Kirk is transgender medicine specialist and surgeon on the board of the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association, which sets the standards of care widely accepted as the authoritative guide to medical treatment for transsexuals. Kirk is also a certified gynecologist.

Kirk is joined by plastic surgeon Dr. J. William Futrell, chief of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's Plastic Reconstructive Surgery Department. Also on the center's staff is Dr. Ernest K. Manders, who specializes in micro and plastic reconstructive surgery, and is a surgery professor at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School.

The Transgender Surgical and Medical Center offers both male-to-female and female-to-male gender reassignment surgery and a range of masculinization and feminization procedures.

The center also provides complete medical care for non-operative, pre-operative and post-operative male to female and female to male transsexuals.

Note: To reach the medical center directly, contact Sheila Kirk, M.D. by phone (412) 781-1092, fax (412) 781-1096, e-mail or snail mail: c/o TSMC, P.O. Box 38366, Blawnox, PA 15238.

Send news stories or comments to the editor at
GenderNews Headlines
GenderNews Index
List of Community Notices

Back to IFGE Home

Page prepared by Beth Lewis.