Pictorial experiences of SRS in an Australian cohort

Belinda Chaplin, Leonie Cox, Christina Campbell

Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster


Purpose: Sex reassignment surgery (SRS) has long been recognised as a successful treatment option for alleviating the distress associated with gender dysphoria for the vast majority of its recipients. From an Australian context, little research has been undertaken on the experiences of trans* people pursuing SRS. Thus, in part, the purpose of this PhD project was to understand the psychosocial experiences of Australian trans* people who had undergone SRS, how they navigated that life changing event, and if they perceived that their needs were met. 

Materials and Methods: Based upon a theoretical framework based upon some key tenets of social constructionism, embodiment and narrative, fourteen trans* people (9 trans* men and 5 trans* women ranging in ages from 25-78) were interviewed. The interview was broken into two sections; firstly, participants were invited (voluntarily) to draw a picture or series of pictures depicting their SRS experience.  From this, participants were asked to title their picture, note a few keywords that described their picture, and then were asked to explain the significance of the picture. An unstructured interview based upon the pictures followed and the pictures were used to supplement the narrative analysis of the interviews. 

Results: Twelve of the fourteen participants agreed to participate in the drawing activity, a novel approach to data generation. This gallery of work displayed here represents the visual and textual thoughts and feelings on how SRS was experienced by this cohort of Australian trans* people. The images demonstrate how SRS alleviated not only gender dysphoria, but also contributed to feelings of improved self worth, body image and a necessary step in identity development. 

Conclusion: Participants' visual accounts suggest that from a personal perspective, surgery as an act relieved their dysphoria and met their needs. New forms of masculinity and femininity were created and became normative. The unique bodily experiences of these twelve Australian participants, unanimous in their positive experiences of SRS, support previous studies on the effectiveness of SRS as an outcome. However, the novel way in which the data were generated placed a human aspect to SRS not normally depicted. 

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes
EventWPATH Biennial International Symposium: Growing: Empowerment, Expertise, Evidence - Amsterdam, Netherlands
Duration: 17 Jun 201621 Jun 2016


ConferenceWPATH Biennial International Symposium


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