Stanley Biber


Stanley H. Biber

Born(1923-05-04)May 4, 1923
DiedJanuary 16, 2006(2006-01-16) (aged 82)
EducationUniversity of Iowa (1948)
Years active1948–2006
Known forSex reassignment surgery
Medical career
InstitutionsMt. San Rafael Hospital

Stanley H. Biber (May 4, 1923 – January 16, 2006) was an American physician who was a pioneer in sex reassignment surgery, performing thousands of procedures during his long career.[1]

Early life

Biber was born to a Jewish family in Des Moines, Iowa as the older of two children and the only son of a father who owned a furniture store and a mother interested in social causes.[2]

After giving up plans to become a pianist and rabbi, Biber served as a civilian employee with the Office of Strategic Services during World War II, stationed in Alaska and the Northwest Territory. After the war, he returned to Iowa and enrolled in school, with plans to become a psychiatrist.

Career in medicine

Biber graduated from the University of Iowa medical school in 1948.[3] He began performing surgery while in residency at a hospital in the Panama Canal Zone. Biber then joined the Army, where he was the chief surgeon of a mobile army surgical hospital during the Korean War.[4] He finished his service at what is now Fort Carson, Colorado, and in 1954 took a job at a United Mine Workers clinic in Trinidad, Colorado.[5] He delivered babies, set broken bones, and was considered an excellent surgeon by the town.[4]

Biber performed his first sex reassignment surgery in 1969 after a trans woman asked him if he would be willing and able to do so. At first, he did not know how, but he learned by studying diagrams from Johns Hopkins Hospital.[4] He kept his first few surgeries secret from the Catholic nuns who operated the hospital, due to concerns that they would react negatively. Trinidad became known as the "Sex Change Capital of the World" because of his renown.[6]

Biber also trained dozens of other surgeons in sex reassignment surgery techniques and maintained a regular surgical practice of delivering babies, removing tonsils, and replacing knee and hip joints.[7]

Retirement and late life

Biber retired in 2003, at age 80, because his malpractice insurance premiums had risen to levels which he could not afford.[8][9] Marci Bowers, a gynecologist and transgender woman herself, took over his SRS practice. Biber was hospitalized in January 2006 with complications from pneumonia, to which he succumbed on January 16 while hospitalized.[10] Biber was 82 at the time of his death. Bowers said, shortly afterwards, that she never expected to "fill his shoes".

Personal life

Biber was divorced several times. He was survived by his wife of 11 months, Mary Lee Biber. He had seven children, seven stepchildren and twenty-two grandchildren, including singer Snatam Kaur by his daughter Prabhu Nam Kaur Khalsa, also a new age singer.[11][12][13]

Related media

On March 9, 2005, the television show South Park first aired the episode "Mr. Garrison's Fancy New Vagina". In the opening scene, school-teacher Mr. Garrison believes that he is a woman on the inside, and decides to undergo a gender confirmation surgery, which is performed by a "Dr Biber" of the Trinidad Medical Center.

The documentary film Trinidad (2008) is about the town of Trinidad and its reputation as the "sex change capital of the world". Dr. Stanley Biber is mentioned often in the film, as is his protege Marci Bowers. The documentary-style reality series Sex Change Hospital (2007) gives a glimpse of Bowers practice after Biber's retirement, and her maintenance of the standards of care he established.[14][15]


  1. ^ Fox, Margalit (21 January 2006). Stanley H. Biber, 82, Surgeon Among First to Do Sex Changes, Dies. New York Times
  2. ^ Auge, Karen. "Well-known Trinidad sex-reassignment doctor leaves; Sex-reassignment doctor moves out of Trinidad, leaving the town to forge a new legacy", The Denver Post, December 13, 2010. Accessed February 24, 2013. "Mike Gerardo, like most Trinidadians of his era, was ushered into life by Bowers' predecessor, Dr. Stanley Biber. Doc Biber, as he's known, wasn't from Trinidad. He was Jewish in a town that, back then, was overwhelmingly Catholic."
  3. ^ Martin, Claire (17 January 2006). "Pioneer sex-change surgeon dies at 82". Denver Post.
  4. ^ a b c Smith, Martin J. (2019-09-12). "He made this town the world's 'sex-change capital,' but he's not honored here". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2019-09-14.
  5. ^ Frazier, Deborah (19 January 2006). "Sex-change pioneer a beloved friend, mentor". Rocky Mountain News. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30.
  6. ^ Brady, Jeff (19 January 2006). Sex-Change Pioneer, Dr. Stanley Biber. All Things Considered, National Public Radio
  7. ^ "'Sex Change' Doctor From Trinidad Dies". cbs4denver.com. CBS Broadcasting. Associated Press. 17 January 2006. Archived from the original on 2007-09-26.
  8. ^ Associated Press (3 January 2005). Colo. Sex-Change Surgeon Retires After Losing Malpractice Insurance via Insurance Journal
  9. ^ Werner, Dan (17 January 2006). Colorado's famed sex change doctor dies[permanent dead link]. KUSA-TV.
  10. ^ Garrett, Mike (18 January 2006). "Sex-change surgeon Stanley Biber dies". Pueblo Chieftain. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007.(subscription required)
  11. ^ Fox, Margalit (2006-01-21). "Stanley H. Biber, 82, Surgeon Among First to Do Sex Changes, Dies". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-03-12.
  12. ^ Post, Claire Martin | The Denver (2006-01-17). "Pioneer sex-change surgeon dies at 82". The Denver Post. Retrieved 2020-03-12.
  13. ^ "Prabhu Nam Kaur". Omega. 2013-10-23. Retrieved 2020-03-12.
  14. ^ DiNunno, Gina (11 November 2008). "Transgender Doctor Talks Sex Change Hospital". TV Guide. Retrieved 2017-02-17.
  15. ^ Roberts, Michael (14 October 2008). "Trinidad Gets Its Closeup Tonight in Sex Change Hospital". Westword. Retrieved 2017-02-17.

External links

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