TV & Radio
The New York Times
January 21, 2006
Stanley H. Biber, 82, Surgeon Among First to Do Sex Changes, Dies
By MARGALIT FOX
Stanley H. Biber, a small-town Colorado doctor who for decades was internationally renowned as the dean of sex-change surgery, died on Monday at a hospital in Pueblo. He was 82 and lived in Hoehne, Colo.
The cause was complications of pneumonia, said his secretary, Marie Pacino.
A former Army surgeon, Dr. Biber (pronounced BYE-ber) was among the first doctors in the United States to perform sex changes and for years was one of only a handful to offer them. He became one of the country's most prolific providers of the operation, which, it was estimated, he performed more than 4,000 times beginning in 1969.
By now, about 30,000 Americans have undergone sex-change surgery, according to the International Foundation for Gender Education, an advocacy group in Waltham, Mass.
During the 1970's, 80's and early 90's, Trinidad, Colo., where Dr. Biber practiced, was an unlikely mecca for men and women who sought to change their sex. Featured frequently on television and in newspapers, the doctor's work earned the town (current population 9,078) a reputation as "the sex-change capital of the world."
If some local residents bristled at the title, many others embraced Dr. Biber and his work. Few disputed its quality. Some expressed pride in the service he performed. And no one doubted the economic benefit to Trinidad, which was a down-at-the-heels former coal-mining town when the doctor moved there in the mid-1950's.
"It's a boon to business here," Dr. Biber told The New York Times in 1998. "They come with families, they stay in the hotels, they eat in the restaurants, they buy at the florists."
Once a rabbinical student, Dr. Biber took to the Old West ethic of Trinidad, near the New Mexico border in southern Colorado. He favored blue jeans, silver belt buckles and pickup trucks. He owned a ranch, was once a county commissioner and to the end of his life rode in cattle drives.
Throughout his career, he continued his work as a general practitioner, performing tonsillectomies, delivering babies and setting bones, sometimes reading X-rays at his kitchen table when patients called on him at night.
Stanley Harold Biber was born on May 4, 1923, in Des Moines. After graduating from high school at 16, he enrolled in a yeshiva in Chicago, intending to become a rabbi. He interrupted his studies to work for the Office of Strategic Services, forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency, during World War II. After the war, he enrolled at the University of Iowa, where he earned a medical degree in 1948.
After a residency in the Panama Canal Zone, Dr. Biber joined the Army, where he was the chief surgeon of a MASH unit in the Korean War. He finished his service at what is now Fort Carson, in Colorado, and in 1954 took a job at a United Mine Workers clinic in Trinidad. He planned to stay a year or two.
For the next 15 years, Dr. Biber had a typical small-town practice, working at Trinidad's only hospital, Mount San Rafael. In 1969, a friend went to his office. She was a social worker who admired Dr. Biber's skill in repairing the harelips of children she had referred to him. She asked if he would perform an operation on her.
"Well, of course," Dr. Biber replied. "What do you want done?"
"I'm a transsexual," she said.
"What's that?" Dr. Biber asked her. He learned that his friend was a man living as a woman.
Not even two decades had passed since a G.I. from the Bronx named George Jorgensen became Christine Jorgensen in Denmark, in 1952. Few surgeons in the United States had ever seen a sex-change operation, much less performed one. But Dr. Biber was young and sure of his surgical prowess. In Korea, he had once performed 37 operations in a row before passing out from exhaustion.
Working from a set of hand-drawn diagrams he obtained from the Johns Hopkins University hospital, he performed the operation.
"It looked like hell," he told The Rocky Mountain News in 2004. "It was terrible. But it functioned, and she was very happy with it because it functioned."
Word got around, and soon other transsexuals went to Trinidad. Dr. Biber obliged, but quietly at first, unsure of the reaction by Mount San Rafael. He stored the charts of his sex-change patients in the hospital safe.
Eventually realizing that he needed the hospital's support, and the town's as well, Dr. Biber gave a series of lectures to local leaders on what is now called gender dysphoria, the feeling that one is trapped in a body of the wrong sex. Though he was sometimes a target of demonstrations by conservative groups over the years, he won over enough people in Trinidad that his work became an accepted part of life there.
Most of Dr. Biber's patients were men seeking to become women, though he also performed female-to-male sex changes. His patients came from all over the world and from all walks of life. There were three brothers who became three sisters. There were an 84-year-old train engineer, a 250-pound linebacker and an American Indian medicine man, all of whom emerged as women.
"Movie stars, judges, mayors - everything," Dr. Biber told Denver Westword, an alternative weekly newspaper, in 1998. "I had everything except a president of the United States."
By the mid-1990's, an increasing number of surgeons in the United States and abroad were providing sex-change operations. In 2003, after his age made malpractice insurance prohibitive, Dr. Biber stopped performing surgery altogether. He maintained a small general practice until his death, taking care, as he told an interviewer, of "friends who won't sue me."
Dr. Biber was divorced several times. He is survived by his wife, Mary Lee, whom he married in February; seven children, Prabhu Nam Kaur Khalsa of San Leandro, Calif.; Robert John, of Lee's Summit, Mo.; Patricia Philyaw, also of Lee's Summit; Debbie Ramsey of Denton, Tex.; David, of Colorado Springs; John, of Trinidad; and Terri Biber of Overland Park, Kan.; seven stepchildren; and 22 grandchildren.
In the years after his friend sat in his office, Dr. Biber refined sex-change surgery into something of which he was proud, training younger surgeons in the technique. His practice has been taken over by a protégée, Dr. Marci Bowers, who herself made the transition from male to female several years ago.
"We turn out a real good product," Dr. Biber told The Rocky Mountain News in 2004. "I have one former patient, a man who became a woman and is now married to a gynecologist. Her husband doesn't know."
SRS surgeon Stanley Biber dies
European Parliament resolution on homophobia in Europe (英語～ページ右上のボタンで各国語に切り替え可能)
Radio Netherlands Current Affairs: Archive by region: Western Europe
also part of: Inside Europe
Related Articles: 5
European Parliament condemns homophobia
by Claire Cavanagh, 21 January 2006
The European Parliament has adopted a resolution condemning homophobia in member states. It calls on the European Commission to take action against countries that fail to treat homosexuals and heterosexuals equally.
Although the resolution doesn't name any countries specifically, it does refer to the banning of gay pride marches, something outlawed in Poland for two years in a row after Polish President Lech Kaczynski (previously mayor of Warsaw) described plans for the parade as "sexually obscene".
MEPs have also asked the European Commission to come up with proposals on the rights of people in same-sex marriages if they decide to live in countries where such marriages are illegal. But the plans have been attacked by a European organisation of bishops. Aldo Giordano from the Council of European Bishops' Conferences described the parliament's decision as "an aversion for certain values of our tradition, notably religious values… such resolutions risk de-legitimising the European Parliament."
Gay rights in countries like the Netherlands, Belgium and even traditionally Catholic Spain have improved in recent years, with the United Kingdom becoming the latest EU state to introduce same-sex civil ceremonies, giving gay couples the same rights as married ones, though without the union being called a 'marriage'.
The EU declaration urges member states to ensure that gay couples enjoy "the same respect, dignity and protection as the rest of society", Dutch MEP Sophie in 't Veld says that recently there have been some worrying developments:
"You know we don't have to be secretive about this, there's been the ban on the gay pride marches in Poland, there've been the constitutional amendments in some of the Baltic states explicitly banning same-sex unions or gay marriage, there have been statements by political and religious leaders in the UK… by a judge in Italy, there have been a number of incidents and we thought this was the best time to have a discussion."
Dutch MEP Sophie in 't Veld
Apart from the resolution encouraging EU states to pass laws recognising gay couples' legal rights to inheritance, property, pensions and tax breaks, it also calls for the combating of homophobia by, for example, educating people over the fact that homosexuals were also victims of the Nazis. Sophie in 't Veld says member states should already be reinforcing these values:
"All the member states have signed up to the charter of fundamental rights, all the member states have signed the EU treaty which explicitly prohibits discrimination, but some of them don't seem to realise that that means they will actually have to implement it."
EUROPE-HOMOPHOBIA Jan-20-2006 (280 words) xxxi
Homophobia vote is attempt to legalize gay unions, says church leader
By Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A European Parliament resolution condemning homophobia is a thinly veiled attempt to pressure European countries to grant legal recognition to gay unions, said the secretary of the Council of European Bishops' Conferences.
Msgr. Aldo Giordano told Vatican Radio Jan. 19 the Catholic Church opposed discrimination against any person, but the resolution was an attempt to "equate the homosexual experience with the family."
The resolution passed Jan. 18 by a vote of 468-149, with 41 abstentions.
It called on countries belonging to the European Union and on European institutions to adopt measures to combat discrimination based on sexual orientation.
But it also said "unjustified and unreasonable limitations" of the rights of homosexuals "are often hidden behind justifications based on public order, religious freedom and the right to conscientious objection."
The resolution also said, "Same-sex partners in some member states do not enjoy all of the rights and protections enjoyed by married opposite-sex partners and consequently suffer discrimination and disadvantage."
The motion urged European nations "to enact legislation to end discrimination faced by same-sex partners in the areas of inheritance, property arrangements, tenancies, pensions, tax (and) social security."
Msgr. Giordano said the resolution was presented and voted on quickly, without adequate time for a real discussion or exploration of prevailing attitudes and practices in the European Union.
"Sometimes it seems there is the domination (within the European Parliament) of a certain ideology of pluralism which sees everything that exists as something good," he said. "There really is lacking a reflection on what is truly human, what is human richness, what is good and evil, what is truth."