Michael Dillon is famous for being the first trans man to undergo a phalloplasty.
He began taking hormones in 1938, but, in the early 1940s, he felt the need for a radical change that, rather than for sexual relations purposes, could bring him safety and protection in the society of the time, specifically, in the bathrooms, in the showers of sports clubs or in the hospital in case of emergency. To do this, he chose to approach the plastic surgeon Sir Harold Gillies, who performed the first phalloplasty on him. Read on to learn more about this doctor with
During World War I, Dr. Harold Gillies worked on mutilated soldiers. He developed multiple facial reconstruction techniques that would make him a prominent doctor in the community. In addition to his medical prowess, he developed a particular and rather modern philosophy: he sought to help the wounded he treated to regain a taste for life as they tended to be rejected by
the society of the time and even abandoned by their families.
After the war, he ran a hospital in Rooksdown, a small town in the English countryside, where the war-wounded, maimed and disfigured, learned to be happy again without judgment. With a dose of blue nail polish, bicycle rides, dance lessons, acceptance, and patience, the doctor created a haven of peace with his surprisingly modern philosophy. It was here that Michael Dillon would undergo a total of 13 surgeries over several years.
In the 1920s, Magnus Hirschfeld and his colleagues in Berlin, and Ilia Golianitskii in Moscow, adopted a modern view in the treatment of trans people by modifying the body to fit the mind rather than the other way around. They were the ones who experimented and practiced the first sex-change surgeries. The development of this aspect of medicine was abruptly interrupted by the rise of Nazism.
It was Sir Harold Gillies, knighted by the Crown in 1930, who took up the torch by operating on Michael Dillon. He modified a technique he had developed for the war-disfigured, which consisted of repairing a more apparent part of the face using a flap of skin from elsewhere on the body. By wrapping such a flap, he performs a successful phalloplasty on Michael Dillon. Michael would attend Rooksdown for 12 more masculinization and correction surgeries. Sir Gillies would also operate on Roberta Cowell, the first British trans woman. And these two famous cases will be the only two operations of sexual reassignment he would practice.
In addition to his advanced medical procedures, his approach of complete acceptance of his patients, which defied the morals of the time, is remembered above all.