Despite the numerous programmes on UK TV warning against shoddy plastic surgeons abroad, there are many reputable facilities in Thailand with qualified professionals who have years of experience in male to female sexual reassignment surgery and hormone courses. For sure there are those which will botch procedures and cause life threatening complications to your health and happiness, as there are globally, and this should be in the back of anyone’s mind when considering any kind of surgery. The scaremongers of English telly rightly warn against such possibilities as well as point out the challenge of being able to follow up, post op, if there are any complications when you don’t live in the same country. But do your research and pay the going rate, (which can still be very cheap when compared with the UK,) and Thailand can be one of the best places for procedures of this nature because transgender is the commonly accepted 3rd sex of Thailand, and as such there is nowhere in the world with more practice at performing these kinds of surgeries. Practice makes perfect after all.
Be cautious though. Hospitals are businesses, and can be quick to give the customer what they ask for without very many questions. While this might sound ideal to some, there is not an automatic focus on the psychology of the situation prior to providing surgery or hormonal treatment as there is in the UK.
I recently spoke to the doctor I see for my diabetes at St Louis Hospital, Bangkok about taking hormones to begin my male to female transition, and she diligently had me undergo the necessary medical checks to ensure that it would be safe for me to do so, (including mammogram, EKG, blood work, and a few other things I forget the names of,) after which she referred me to the locally famous “Yanhee Hospital” to set a course of hormones and monitor my progress and health. I decided not to pursue it however, in favor of finding a counselor or psychiatrist to discuss my gender issues with for a while before revisiting the possibility. (I’m currently looking for one and will gladly take recommendations of any in the UK who operate over Skype.)
If you plan to take advantage of the experienced and skilled medical professionals available in Bangkok for your transition, without jumping through the long, draw out hoops that the UK’s system requires you to, I urge you not to pounce too readily on an irreversible change like that without first exploring you own psychology with a qualified professional. While I believe that anyone should be able to do whatever they want to or with their own body, many people desperately need someone to evaluate whether they are in a sound enough emotional state to make that decision, without later regretting it, whether they realize it or not. I remain in two minds as to if I will start hormones but am now resolute not to make that decision until I’ve had months of counseling. It’s prudent to make sure you truly want something that you can’t then later undo. That’s where the UK has got it right.