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27 August 2008

Lennox Ross Broster (1888 - 1965) pioneering surgeon.

Lennox Broster was the fifth child of eight of a farmer in Molteno, South Africa.  He won a Rhodes Scholarship, and studied medicine at Oxford University.  He met his wife-to-be, Edith, at Oxford.  They later had three daughters. 

Lennox became Head Surgeon at Charing Cross Hospital, London, and later a well-known Harley Street surgeon. He did pioneer research and provided hormonal therapy and surgery for intersex patients, especially those with adreno-genital syndrome (now known as Congenital adrenal hyperplasia), at Charing Cross Hospital in the 1930s and 1940s.  Patients included: Mark Weston.

In 1932 he devised an operation which provided heretofore-impossible access to the adrenal gland for removal of tumours.

++An 1938 article in the Daily Mirror about his work was headlined “Doctor Changes Sex of 24: Patients Have Married”.   The article specifically mentioned Donald Purcell who did marry four years later.

Broster's work was reported in The News of the World, in 1943, which attracted male-born patients who would now be regarded as transsexual. However there is no evidence that he operated on any such person, and Clifford Allen, the psychiatrist who worked with him, specifically rejected surgical treatment for ‘transvestites’ (the term then in use).

Unlike the other surgeons who operated on intersex and 'transvestite' patients in the 1930s and 1940s, e.g. Harold Gillies, Kurt Warnekros, Ludwig Levy-Lenz, Erwin Gohrbandt, Milosh Kilcka, he did not do just one or two as an experiment, but did several hundred operations over the years.

He later worked with John Randell.

He died in Wimbledon, London, aged 77.
  • Lennox Ross Broster,  Surgical Problems of the War. Lippincott, 1933.
  • L. R. Broster, Clifford Allen, H. W. C. Vines, Jocelyn Patterson, Alan W. Greenwood, G. F. Marrian, and G. C. Butler. The Adrenal Cortex and Intersexuality. London: Chapman & Hall Ltd., 1938.
  • Lennox Ross Broster. The Clinical and Surgical Aspect of the Adreno-Genital Syndrome. 1938.
  • L. R. Broster.  Endocrine Man: A Study in the Surgery of Sex. William Heinemann, Medical Books, 1944.
  • Lennox Ross Broster & Howard William Copland Vines. The Adrenal Cortex: a surgical and pathological study. H.K. Lewis & Co. Ltd, 1933.
  • “Were Once Sisters”. The News of the World. 2 Aug 1943.
  • Dave King. “Pioneers of Transgendering: John Randell, 1918-1982”. University of Ulster: Gendys Conference, 2002.
  • "The Broster Family Connection".  Family Trees, History and Stories.

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