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The Kindest Cut

This makes me happy.

This May, Sila, now 38 years old, underwent a simple but profound operation to undo the past. She traveled to Trinidad, Colorado, where Dr. Marci Bowers, a gynecological and pelvic surgeon, has recently begun to perform "clitoralplasty" or "female circumcision reversals" on African women. A relatively new procedure, it reshapes the anatomy and, in 80 percent of patients, restores pleasurable sensation. "I want my womanhood back," Sila told Bowers when she first spoke to the surgeon about the operation. "I just want to know it's there. To have the feeling that I can fight against this culture."

....Bowers performs the surgery free of charge, and the hospital caps its fees at $1,700. "As Dr. Foldes has said, you cannot charge money to reverse a crime against humanity," she says. "Sexuality is a right."

....Since Sila, Bowers has performed four additional surgeries with two more scheduled for this month. A California nurse, Ngozi, who was circumcised as a newborn in Nigeria and also had her labia entirely cut away, came to Bowers in August. She is already feeling results, she tells NEWSWEEK. "Before, I would look at my textbook and look at myself and they were two different things. I wasn't even human." Bowers performed not only the clitoral operation but also plastic surgery to create labia for Ngozi, 34. "Now when I look at myself I feel like a woman," says Ngozi, who says she has even experienced orgasms for the first time in her life. "It's beautiful, I just love it, it feels like you're melting. Before it irritated me when my husband tried to touch me, now I reach out to him."

....Sila had spoken with two of Bowers's first three patients. Mariam—she agreed to give only her first name—was circumcised as an infant in Mauritania and now lives in Virginia. She spoke with NEWSWEEK seven weeks after her surgery and was still healing, but had begun to recover some sensation. "When I cross my legs or sit in a certain way, I feel something," she says. "It's kind of exciting. You keep wanting to do it." She is still haggling to have her hospital stay covered by insurance. "I've gone through this hell, why are they going to say this is cosmetic?" she says. "They don't even know what they're talking about. If a person is missing something, it's not cosmetic."
Dear Dr. Bowers: Thank you for being awesome. :)


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 23rd, 2009 12:50 am (UTC)
I know. XD XD
Oct. 23rd, 2009 12:13 am (UTC)
That story is just about the best thing I've read this month.

God bless people like Dr. Bowers. <3
Oct. 23rd, 2009 12:16 am (UTC)
exactly. I was so thrilled when I read it. I'm so happy that there's something out there like this to help those women.
Oct. 23rd, 2009 03:13 am (UTC)
Oct. 23rd, 2009 06:34 am (UTC)
How wonderful!
Oct. 23rd, 2009 07:10 am (UTC)
My respect for Dr. Bowers only increases. The fact that she invented and pioneered this surgery by providing it for trans women makes it that much sweeter.
Oct. 23rd, 2009 07:22 am (UTC)
OMG, that's possible? I am seriously impressed.

Dear Dr. Bowers: Thank you for being awesome. Seconded. Hopefully others will now follow her example.
Oct. 23rd, 2009 03:34 pm (UTC)
Thank you Dr. Bowers.

Full of Win.
(doesn't cover it.)
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )


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