February 9, 2006 by

Stanley Biber

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Categories: Medicine, Military

Dr. Stanley H. Biber, a sex-reassignment surgeon who helped turn the small town of Trinidad, Colo., into the sex-change capital of the world, died on Jan. 16 from complications of pneumonia. He was 82.
Born in Des Moines, Iowa, Biber was the eldest child of a furniture store owner and a social rights advocate. He attended a rabbinical seminary in Chicago, and worked as a civilian in the Alaskan Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the CIA, in World War II. Biber graduated from the University of Iowa’s medical school in 1948, and served as the chief surgeon of a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) unit in South Korea during the Korean War.
When his military service ended, Biber moved to Trinidad, Colo., where he worked as a general surgeon at Mt. San Rafael Hospital. His specialty changed in 1969 when a local social worker asked him to perform the gender-altering surgery known as a penectomy. After reading articles about the procedure, Biber transformed his first transsexual patient from a man to a woman. Although he kept the operation a secret from the Catholic nuns who ran the hospital, Biber later received the administration’s approval and support.
Over the next three decades, Biber surgically altered the genders of 5,000 men and 800 women, including actors, athletes, clergymen, judges, models, police officers, politicians and teachers. The world-renowned surgeon also maintained a regular surgical practice and trained hundreds of other surgeons in gender-reversal techniques.
Trinidad’s status as a sex-change hot spot grew as Biber was featured on numerous television shows, such as “Oprah,” “Geraldo” and “Guinness World Records: Primetime.” Some citizens objected to Biber’s work, but most acknowledged his commitment to health care. To honor his medical career, city officials declared Oct. 10 Stanley Biber Day.
Biber frequently wore blue jeans and cowboy boots, a casual outfit that suited his homelife on a large cattle ranch. In 2003, he turned his medical practice over to Dr. Marci Bowers, a gynecological surgeon and the product of a sex-change operation, because he could no longer afford to pay for malpractice insurance.
“I think he put the operation on the world map. He made it safe, reproducible and functional and he brought happiness to an awful lot of people. And when you wanted a voice of reason, he was always there,” Bowers said.
Listen to a Tribute From NPR

4 Responses to Stanley Biber

  1. BRENDA GALLOWAY

    even though i only met dr. biber threw my son working on his ranch, he was a very plesant gentleman i’ll alway admire him for the wok and service he gave the trinidad comunity, he was always very pleasnt and a pleasure to visit with, he will be missed not only as a good man but as a great doctor.

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