Pride Month (June) is upon us again. Although here at Transform we believe in providing much needed allyship to the trans community all year round, we wanted to mark this month by acknowledging and celebrating LGBTQ+ communities around the world.
To celebrate this 50th anniversary of Pride in the UK, we spoke to Mr Ioannis Ntanos, a gender affirming surgeon who specialises in top surgery for trans masculine individuals. Mr Ntanos is also a bioethicist and active trans ally. He carries out procedures at our Pines Hospital facility in Manchester, and is passionate about transgender healthcare.
How did you first become involved with gender affirmative surgery?
My background is in breast surgery, but I have specialised in delivering gender affirmative surgery for trans masculine individuals since 2018. I’ve been carrying out this type of procedure at The Pines Hospital since August 2020. During the past few years we have seen a sharp increase in demand and, while trans healthcare is largely absent from the training curricula, interest is growing along with the associated training and expertise, which is largely developed through personal interest, investment and dedication to the specialism. I have always been passionate about helping people to reach their potential – it’s why I became a surgeon in the first place. Gender affirming surgery allows me to do that in a way I never thought possible.
What kind of impact does gender affirmation surgery have on patients?
There’s no doubt in my mind that gender affirming surgery is life changing. For so many of the people that I operate on, it improves the way they move through the world on so many levels - their social interactions, building up their confidence, having more clothing options, being able to dispose of their constrictive binder, minimising the chances of being misgendered and, of course, the improvement in mental health and wellbeing that comes from feeling more comfortable in their own skin. It’s a rebirth of sorts, and some individuals even celebrate the date of their operation as a second birthday.
How does it feel to be able to make such a difference to your patients’ lives?
It is a pleasure and a privilege to be able to be a part of their journey and to help them to achieve a body that more closely aligns with their gender identity.
How have you found your experience of working with Transform at The Pines Hospital?
It goes without saying that it is vitally important that the facility from which I operate, and where my patients come for their surgery, is gender affirming, and that’s exactly how I would describe The Pines. The team was very positive and responsive from the start. They’ve shown great interest, not only in accommodating my patients, but also in receiving training, through which we were able to develop a more inclusive language and culture that goes beyond the scope of my practice.
Can you tell us a little bit more about the training you have conducted?
We cover a range of topics such as why transgender healthcare is important, the terminology that should be used when speaking with trans and non-binary patients, insight into gender identity, the current status of trans healthcare delivery in England, and the future of trans healthcare.
It’s important that people attending the training session are able to ask questions relating to the care of trans patients. Feedback to date has been extremely positive. I’m hoping to do more training with interested colleagues across the Transform, because we can all make a difference if we know how to properly care for all of our patients.