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.
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.
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 as a physician
Biber graduated from the University of Iowa medical school in 1948. 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 (MASH) unit in the Korean War. 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.
Biber performed his first sex change operation in 1969 after a transsexual 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. He kept his first few surgeries secret from the Catholic nuns who operated the hospital, due to concerns that they would react negatively. Trinidad subsequently became known as the "Sex Change Capital of the World" because of his renown.
Biber also trained dozens of other surgeons in gender reversal techniques and maintained a regular surgical practice of delivering babies, removing tonsils, and replacing knee and hip joints.
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. Marci Bowers, a gynecologist and transsexual 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. Biber was 82 at the time of his death. Bowers said, shortly afterwards, that she never expected to "fill his shoes".
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 sex change operation, 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 along with Marci Bowers. The documentary-style reality series Sex Change Hospital (2007) gives a glimpse of Dr. Bowers practice after Dr. Biber's retirement, and her maintenance of the standards of care he established.
- Fox, Margalit (21 January 2006). Stanley H. Biber, 82, Surgeon Among First to Do Sex Changes, Dies. New York Times
- 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."
- Martin, Claire (18 January 2006). Pioneer sex-change surgeon dies at 82. Denver Post
- Frazier, Deborah (19 January 2006). Sex-change pioneer a beloved friend, mentor. Rocky Mountain News
- Brady, Jeff (19 January 2006). Sex-Change Pioneer, Dr. Stanley Biber. All Things Considered, National Public Radio
- Associated Press (17 January 2006). 'Sex Change' Doctor From Trinidad Dies. via KCNC-TV.
- Associated Press (3 January 2005). Colo. Sex-Change Surgeon Retires After Losing Malpractice Insurance via Insurance Journal
- Werner, Dan (17 January 2006). Colorado's famed sex change doctor dies. KUSA-TV.
- Garrett, Mike (18 January 2006). Sex-change surgeon Stanley Biber dies. Pueblo Chieftain
- DiNunno, Gina (11 November 2008). "Transgender Doctor Talks Sex Change Hospital". http://www.tvguide.com/news/sex-change-hospital-58306/.
- Roberts, Michael (14 October 2008). "Trinidad Gets Its Closeup Tonight in Sex Change Hospital". http://www.westword.com/news/trinidad-gets-its-closeup-tonight-in-sex-change-hospital-5899787.
- Article on Dr. Biber via PBS
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