Cisgender Affirming Surgeries
The gender binary hurts everyone, but is breaking bones a cure?
Last week, BuzzFeed posted an article that went viral, about men who are shorter than average stature getting surgery to increase their height. The limb-lengthening procedure involves deliberately breaking bones in the patient’s legs.
He Was 5'7". After Surgery, He'll Be 5'10".
When I first met Scott - not his real name - in early March, he was gently pushing a walker ahead of him. I had gotten…
I had heard about surgeries like this for people who are much shorter than average, who face practical obstacles in a society that is not designed to accommodate short adults. As the BuzzFeed article points out, the surgery has also been used to correct limbs of mismatched length. But I had not heard of people who are 5' 6" or taller pursuing leg lengthening as an elective, cosmetic surgery.
Men shorter than the current US-American average height of 5' 9" are frequently mocked and rejected as romantic or sexual partners. Especially as I’ve always been attracted to shorter men, I consider these judgments ridiculous and offensive, but I can’t deny that they occur. Under binary gender expectations, men are expected to be tall, and women short, and those who deviate are targets for ridicule.
Trans people are very familiar with these gendered expectations. Tall trans women — who don’t have the option to reduce their height surgically — face more than mockery. As they often have more trouble “passing” for cisgender, they can be denied access to gendered facilities, employment, and healthcare. Tall cis women who do not present as feminine can face misgendering and discrimination as well.
NBC News reporter Kat Tenbarge tweeted about elective limb-lengthening as an example of straight cis men pursuing gender-affirming surgery. I thought this was a good point, and responded as such. (Though note that the man featured in this BuzzFeed article is bi, not straight.)