Intended for healthcare professionals

Student Careers

Changing sexes

BMJ 2004; 328 doi: (Published 01 May 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:0405193
  1. Clare Hughes, final year medical student1
  1. 1Guy's, King's, and St Thomas's School of Medicine, London

James Bellringer performs sex change operations. He explains to Clare Hughes why being non-judgmental and open minded is a large part of his job

James Bellringer has a rare career--you can count on one hand the number of the specialty's surgeons in Britain. But, despite being one of the best in the field, not even his parents know what he does.

James is one of the few gender reassignment surgeons working in Britain. Based at the Charing Cross Hospital in London, he operates to turn men with gender dysphoria into women. He also does some penile surgery and runs a sexual dysfunction clinic. As he puts it, “A genital surgeon--how exciting.”

Performing sex changes has not been a life long ambition for James: “It found me, not the other way around. I had no intentions, I hadn't even thought about it. Originally I wanted to be an orthopaedic surgeon. I'd been doing it for a year and thought the operating was super fun--all those lovely pieces of kit--it's one big Meccano set.

“But preoperative diagnosis was becoming almost automated, and I missed the diagnostic and management problems that soft tissue surgery throws at you so I decided to go into my other …

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