Dr. Narendra Kaushik of the Olmec Transgender Surgery Institute in Delhi, India has announced that he will attempt to transplant a uterus into a transgender woman.
The procedure, which has never been performed successfully, would allow the recipient to give birth.
While uterus transplants have been successful with cisgender women, it has not been for trans women.
“Every transgender woman wants to be as female as possible,” Kaushik said. “And that includes being a mother. The way towards this is with a uterine transplant, the same as a kidney or any other transplant.”
But Kaushik isn’t certain when the procedure will be performed. The uterus would come from a deceased donor.
“This is the future. We cannot predict exactly when this will happen but it will happen very soon,” he said. “We have our plans and we are very very optimistic about this.”
Lile Elbe, the subject of the movie The Danish Girl, underwent a uterus transplant in 1931 but died months later after an infection she acquired during the procedure led to a heart attack. Eddie Redmayne, a cisgender man, played Elbe in the movie. He has since apologized for taking the role after blowback that producers didn’t hire a transgender woman to play the role.
“I made that film with the best intentions, but I think it was a mistake,” he said. “The bigger discussion about the frustrations around casting is because many people don’t have a chair at the table. There must be a leveling, otherwise, we are going to carry on having these debates.”
Elbe is widely believed to be the first known person to undergo sexual reassignment surgery in 1930. The majority of surgical options for transgender people prior to Elbe were simply the removal of sexual organs.
Elbe was an artist by trade, and studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. While there, she met Gerda Gottlied, neé Wegener, who ended up using Elbe as a model in many of her paintings. In the wake of media sensation over her surgery, a Danish court voided her marriage to Wegener.