Laurence Michael Dillon, America’s first medically transitioned transgender man, was born as Laura Maud Dillon. He was born as a healthy baby in 1915, but assigned female at birth. His mother died of complications after birth and his father died when Dillon was nine.
Dillon was a smart young man, and before Oxford was opened to women, he was told to apply. At Oxford, in order to earn a full degree, he had to dress like a man.
It turns out that Dillon rather enjoyed dressing like a man, so he contacted a doctor who gave him testosterone pills. However, the doctor gossiped about him, causing his coworkers to find out about his assigned gender at birth and his transition. Dillon had to leave his job and move to escape the ridicule.
“In 1943, Dillon met a plastic surgeon, one of the first in Britain, who had studied with the man who apparently invented plastic surgery, Harold Gillies. Dr. Gillies invented his surgical techniques while working on men who had been disfigured in World War I, people who had been injured in accidents … and on a certain number of people who either had been born with ambiguous genitals, or wanted sex-reassignment surgery. His disciple wrote Dillon a note that enabled him to change the name and sex listed on his identity documents (possibly before any surgery had been carried out) and passed him on to Dr. Gillies, who performed several surgeries on his chest and genitals over a number of years.
In 1949 he became the proud new owner of an official penis. Ironically, the main purpose of this organ was to allow him to pass in those “public” situations where men are gathered together in the nude or semi-nude. It was not fully functional, and considering that men have a taboo against staring at each other’s equipment, one can’t help but wonder just how realistic it was. In any case, Dillon was happy. Temporarily.” [x]
Dillon aided in the surgical transition of Roberta Cowell, Britain’s first transgender woman to undergo sex reassignment surgery.
After he tried to receive his inheritance, he became a public figure. This caused him great mental strife and he left the country, moving to India. In India, he wanted to improve his mental discipline and he studied the Buddhist doctrine. There he learned that those of the “third sex” were not allowed in a particular monastery. However, he continued his spiritual journey and passed away from malnutrition on May 15, 1962. He was only 47.
Dillon wrote two books, The Life of Milarepa, about a famous 11th Century Tibetan yogi, and Imji Getsul, a book about his life at the monastery. His struggles allowed for numerous scientific advances in transgender health.
-Staff: Sean R 5113
(For those who want to read his book, Imji Getsul)
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