Marci Lee Bowers (born January 18, 1958) is an American gynecologist and surgeon who specializes in gender confirmation surgeries. Bowers' practice is the San Mateo Surgery Center in Burlingame, California. From 2003 to 2010, she practiced in the town of Trinidad, Colorado, where she had studied under Stanley Biber before his retirement.
|Born||January 18, 1958|
|Education||University of Minnesota|
|Known for||Gender confirmation surgery|
Bowers is viewed as an innovator in gender confirmation surgery, and—as the first out trans woman to perform such surgeries—a pioneer. Bowers has been referred to as the "rock star" of transgender surgery.
Marci Bowers was known as Mark Bowers in her university years. Bowers graduated from the University of Minnesota Medical School in 1986, where she was president of both her class and the entire student body. Bowers later went on to study under Dr. Stanley Biber (1923–2006), a surgeon who performed more than 4000 sex reassignment surgeries, and who is credited for earning Trinidad the moniker "Sex Change Capital of the World."
Before moving to Trinidad, Bowers had a successful practice at the PolyClinic in Seattle, and has delivered more than 2000 babies. She has served as Obstetrics and Gynecology Department Chairperson at Swedish (Providence) Medical Center, and was named the only physician member of the Washington State midwifery Board. She was also named as one of "America's Best Physicians" for the 2002 to 2003 awards, and is a member-elect of the European Academy of Sciences.
When Biber retired in 2003 at the age of 80, Bowers took over his practice, and since then, has done over 300 sexual reassignment surgeries, performing about five operations per week at Mt. San Rafael Hospital. Bowers says her surgeries brought an estimated US$1.6 million per year to the hospital; she performed an average of 130 surgeries per year.
Bowers is often asked about sex reassignment surgery for minors. She has been critical of prohibitions against this in the WPATH Standards of Care. She has stated, "I believe the surgery should be responsibly performed for the proper, carefully screened candidates, not at age 18, but at age 16 or 17, while still under the caring environment of home, allowing some social transition still in high school. It is the only morally responsible approach to this problem. We have already made that change in our standards here, and I will live to see that change be made globally as well."
Bowers also offers restorative procedures for victims of female genital mutilation (FGM), whom she does not charge for surgery. She was trained for this specific operation under Pierre Foldès; by March 2014, she had performed 50 reversals of FGM.
Perhaps Bowers' first television appearance was a dramatic role in "Ch-ch-changes" (2004), a season-five episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation that focused on transgender issues. She also served as a production consultant for the episode.
She appeared briefly in the 2005 docusoap series TransGeneration, produced by World of Wonder; soon after, World of Wonder turned their attention to Bowers herself, and her practice, in their 2007 documentary series Sex Change Hospital—a six-episode series that follows 12 patients before, during, and after surgery. Sex Change Hospital premiered on More4, and was rebroadcast on E4 in the UK and WE tv in the US. She and her practice were also the focus of Trinidad (2009), an independent documentary directed by PJ Raval and Jay Hodges. The filmmakers examine the success of Dr. Bowers' practice, and the transgender people who travel to the town of Trinidad, Colorado for sex reassignment surgery. The film premiered in the US on the Showtime channel.
Bowers appears as herself in the television documentary Gender Revolution: A Journey with Katie Couric (2017), and in the 2017 and 2018 seasons of the reality series I Am Jazz. She has been a guest on US talk shows The Oprah Winfrey Show and The Tyra Banks Show; she has been interviewed for several publications.
Not all of Trinidad's residents were happy with the town's title of "Sex Change Capital". In 2005, Terry Keith, a pastor for the All Nations Fellowship church, told The Pueblo Chieftain, "Our reputation as sex-change capital of the world has brought shame and reproach on the community." That same year, two pastors circulated a petition for the closure of the clinic. They cited a Johns Hopkins University study that they claimed was proof that gender confirmation surgeries were an ineffective treatment for gender dysphoria. The petition was rejected. Bowers said that the church misrepresented the study data: "If you look at the actual study itself, the satisfaction rates and happiness rates after [surgeries] were overwhelmingly positive, their interpretation of the study was that the respondents—the patients themselves—couldn't possibly be accurate about what they were feeling, because they were crazy in the first place. There's been nothing like it since—and it's very important to point out that it's from 1972."
Bowers herself completed gender reassignment surgery in 1998. She married eleven years prior to her surgery, and remains married to her female spouse. They have three children together, and while they no longer have a conventional marital relationship, Bowers says they are "closer than sisters."
Transitioning is like walking on lily pads: You have to be careful with each step, or you're going to sink. It takes a lot of money, courage and a certain amount of planning. I'm just glad I can help.— Marci Bowers
- "Travel, Office location & Parking". MarciBowers.com. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
- Jacob Anderson-Minshall (2006). "Trans Surgeon Keeps Small Town on Map". San Francisco Bay Times. Archived from the original on February 6, 2012. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
- L.A. Johnson (October 4, 2006). "Transgender woman followed long road to feel at home with herself". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved October 10, 2007.
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- Colorado State University (2005). "Trinidad Gender Reassignment Surgeon to speak at Colorado State University-Pueblo". Colorado State University. Retrieved October 12, 2007.[dead link]
- Marc Gunther (November 30, 2006). "How Corporate America fell in love with gays and lesbians. It's a movement". CNN Money. Retrieved October 10, 2007.
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- Douglas Brown (July 1, 2007). "Trinidad's transgender rock star". The Denver Post. Retrieved October 10, 2007.
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- Laura-Claire Corson (2007). "Country's most popular gender-reassignment surgeon has been through it". The Associated Press / The Times. Retrieved October 18, 2007.
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- "Marci Bowers - Information Regarding the Move to San Mateo". Archived from the original on 2012-07-04.
- "Dr. Bowers SRS/GRS Guide: Overview".
- Laura Onstot (2007). "Shoulder Pads, Pom-Poms, and the Angry Inch". Seattle Weekly. Retrieved October 20, 2007.
- Jackson, Chris (June 5, 2008). The “Transational” Dr. Marci Bowers. Lavender Magazine
- Eve Conant (2009). "The Kindest Cut: In Colorado, a surgeon helps restore feeling—and so much more—to victims of female genital mutilation". Newsweek. Retrieved October 27, 2009.
- Giselle Portenier (2014). "Defying Destiny". Ottawa Citizen. Archived from the original on March 11, 2014. Retrieved March 12, 2014.
- Channel4 (2007). "Sex Change Hospital". Channel4. Retrieved October 12, 2007.
- "LAFF '08 INTERVIEW Trinidad Co-directors Jay Hodges and PJ Raval". IndieWire. 26 June 2008. Retrieved 15 March 2013.
- Jones, Kimberly (1 June 2009). "'Trinidad' Premieres on TV: PJ Raval and Jay Hodges' documentary will air on Showtime this June". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 15 March 2013.
- "Gender Identity". Oprah.com. Harpo Productions. September 28, 2007. Archived from the original on 2008-01-03. Retrieved 2017-02-25.
- Alan Prendergast (2004). "The Doctor is Out". Denver Westword News. Retrieved November 8, 2007.
- Anderson-Minshall, Jacob (2006). "Trans Surgeon Keeps Small Town Top Destination". EXP Magazine. Archived from the original on 2017-07-28. Retrieved 2007-11-08.