Formations of Femininity: Science and Aesthetics in Facial Feminization Surgery

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8 Scopus citations


Facial feminization surgery (FFS) is a set of bone and soft tissue reconstructive surgical procedures intended to feminize the faces of trans- women in order to make their identities as women recognizable to others. In this article, I explore how the identification of facial femininity was negotiated in two FFS surgeons’ practices. One committed to the metrics of normal skeletal form and the other to aspirational aesthetics of individual optimization; I argue that surgeons’ competing clinical approaches illustrate a constitutive tension in the proliferating therapeutic logics of trans- medicine. The growing popularity of surgical practices like FFS demonstrates a shift in American trans- therapeutics away from a singular focus on the genitalia as the location of bodily sex and toward understandings of sex as a product of social recognition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)629-641
Number of pages13
JournalMedical Anthropology: Cross Cultural Studies in Health and Illness
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 3 2017


  • Facial feminization surgery
  • femininity
  • theories of sex
  • transgender medicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Anthropology


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