Dateline Oct 4, 1966: The New York Daily News gossip column reported a girl was making the rounds in Manhattan clubs who admitted to being a man in 1965. She had undergone a sex-change operation in Baltimore at the Johns Hopkins gender clinic.
By 1979, thirteen years later, enough gender surgeries had been performed to evaluate the results. It was time for a report card based on actual patients.
1970s: How effective was the change surgery? What were the outcomes for transgender people?
The first report comes from Dr. Harry Benjamin, a strong advocate for cross-gender hormone therapy and gender-reassignment surgery, who operated a private clinic for transsexuals. According to an article in the Journal of Gay & Lesbian Mental Health, “By 1972, Benjamin had diagnosed, treated, and befriended at least a thousand of the ten thousand Americans known to be transsexual.”
Dr. Benjamin’s trusted colleague, endocrinologist Charles Ihlenfeld administered hormone therapy to some 500 transgender people over a period of six years at Benjamin’s clinic—until he became concerned about the outcomes. “There is too much unhappiness among people who have the surgery,” he said.