Michael Dillon, Trans Pioneer: LGBT+ History Month Icon (2)

Michael Dillon is known as ‘the first Trans Man’.

Born as Laura Maud Dillon in 1915 into a wealthy and titled home, he was brought up female and went to St. Anne’s College, Oxford excelling in rowing. It was at this time that Dillon began experimenting with a more masculine appearance with short, black hair, trousers and with a pipe in hand.

Studying to be a physician Dillon met George Foss, who was treating patients with testosterone. On learning of its side effects of causing facial hair and muscle development Dillon opted to start taking it.

He then had a double mastectomy before being introduced to Harold Gillies, who was a plastic surgeon and they discussed phalloplasty – surgical construction of a penis – which had never been done before. After multiple gruelling surgeries, Michael Dillon became the first person to have undergone female to male gender reassignment.

Framing Dillon as a genuine pioneer, these surgeries were the very first of their kind. The surgeons had to use false diagnoses to be able to carry out the procedures and Dillon kept quiet to protect both the careers of these consultants and his own reputation.

In 1958, having been identified working as a doctor in Baltimore, his secret was cruelly outed by a voracious group of journalists and photographers, some of whom threatened to disrobe him to establish the physical evidence of his transitioning.

Fleeing to India and his status as fodder for the tabloid press, Dillon changed his name to Lobzang Jivaka, shaving his beard and full-heartedly embracing his new identity. Dillon became a Buddhist Monk. Ironically, it was in this new chapter that he realised he shouldn’t be silenced and he spent his time writing about his experiences.

Lobzang Jivaka was the first Western-European Man to be ordained into the Tibetan Buddhist Monk circle, leaving him a significant figure. His fearlessness and bravery about gender change make him an icon for the LGBTQ+ Community.

Further reading: Michael Dillon / Lobzang Jivaka’s autobiography ‘Out Of The Ordinary: A Life of Gender And Spiritual Transitions’.

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