Transgender orchiectomy

Some people in our community choose bilateral orchiectomy prior to or instead of vaginoplasty. This medical procedure is also called orchidectomy or gonadectomy and is commonly known as castration or by the abbreviations “orch,” “orchi,” “orchy,” and “orchie.” Bilateral orchiectomy involves removal of both testicles, which eliminates the primary sources of androgen production.

This procedure is most often performed by urologists or endocrinologists and is sometimes done for treatment of prostate cancer and testicular cancer in cisgender patients. This is different than getting a vasectomy, a surgery that cuts the vas deferens to block sperm from reaching the semen that is ejaculated from the penis.

Important: Bilateral orchiectomy will change your body so you can’t ever make children. Patients need to think about their reproductive options before getting an orchiectomy.

Overview

Reasons to get an orchiectomy

  • Costs much less money than vaginoplasty
  • Patients don’t need antiandrogens after the surgery
  • Patients can take lower doses of feminizing hormones after the surgery

Problems that can happen

  • It can shrink the amount of tissue available for vaginoplasty
  • It leaves small scars which may affect a later vaginoplasty result

If you want to get vaginoplasty at a later date, you should speak with the surgeon(s) you are considering before getting an orchiectomy. Some of them may have suggestions or recommendations about incision placement to ensure a better vaginoplasty result at a later date.

Some people have been able to change the gender on their legal documents following orchiectomy in places where the law requires surgery. You will may to ask your surgeon for a letter affirming that the surgeon performed irreversible genital surgery.

Unqualified people performing the procedure

When our community had a harder time getting medical services last century, some people had this done by people who did not have the right medical training or equipment. Some tried to do it on themselves, which is very dangerous and can lead to death or serious injury. I strongly urge you to seek out a qualified practitioner to perform this procedure under the safest conditions.

Physicians performing the procedure

Below are medical professionals who currently perform orchiectomy or have performed them in the past for our community.

Note: many links below contain images of surgery and genitals

Marc Arnkoff (myorchie.com)

  • Detroit, Michigan, USA

Jenelle Foote (jenellefootemd.com)

  • Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Christine McGinn (drchristinemcginn.com)

  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Crane Center for Transgender Surgery (cranects.com)

  • Greenbrae, California, USA
  • Austin Texas, USA
  • Michael Brownstein (brownsteincrane.com), who retired in 2013.

Lake Oswego Plastic Surgery (lakeoswegoplasticsurgery.com)

  • Lake Oswego, Oregon, USA
  • Tuan Nguyen

No longer active

Readers have reported that these practitioners are no longer active.

  • Robert Barham, Portland, Oregon, USA (retired)
  • Michael Brownstein, San Francisco, California, USA (retired 2013)
  • Murray Kimmel, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA (retired)
  • Felix Spector, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA (inactive)
  • Timothy Terry, Leicester, UK (inactive)

Consumer experiences with unnamed surgeons

Ruby’s Journal (rtaylor36.tripod.com)

  • The orchiectomy chronicles (September 2003) [archive]

Jessi via Caitlin H. (road-less-traveled.com)

  • Jessi’s orchiectomy experience (2000) [archive]

Anonymous

Resources

Note: many links below contain images of surgery and genitals

Surgery Encyclopedia (surgeryencyclopedia.com)

Trans HealthCare (transhealthcare.org)

Sherry’s Transition Site (sherrylanina.tripod.com/sjc.htm)

Gender.org.uk (gender.org.uk)

Annie Richards (secondtype.com)

Looking Glass Society (looking-glass.greenend.org.uk)