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28 May 2016

Michel Seghers (1932 – 2014) sex-change surgeon

Michel Seghers qualified as a doctor at the Catholic University of Luvain in 1957. As an alternative to Belgian military service he did a three-year medical internship in the then Belgian Congo, first on a sugar cane plantation, and then at the University of Lovanian in Léopoldville (renamed Kinshasha in 1966), which was affiliated with the his alma mater. His wife was with him, and as it happened each of their three children would be born on different continents.

From 1962 he worked for a year in Cincinnati, USA, where he gained experience in plastic surgery at the Christ and Children’s Hospital. He accepted a position at the University of Léopoldville in 1963 where he did plastic and reconstructive surgery, but returned to Brussels in 1966 during the instability with the change of government that resulted in Mobutu Sese Seko coming to power.

In October 1967 Peggy Wijnen died of a blood clot shortly after transgender surgery. Her surgeon, Andre Fardeau, was charged with inflicting fatal blows and wounds with premeditation and willingly but without intent to kill, but died during the trial. This attracted Segher’s attention, and shortly afterwards a French psychiatrist introduced him to a patient who lived and passed as female and had attempted suicide several times in despair. Seghers studied the literature, and realized that he was the only hope for the patient. The operation at St Joseph’s Hospital was successful, and afterwards Seghers communicated the facts to the Belgian Society for Plastic Surgery.

There was another Belgian surgeon who was known for attempting to build extra-large vaginas and ended up with vagina-rectal fistulae. Against this background, two of Seghers’ early patients requested penectomy and orchiectomy only, that is without a vagina.

At his clinic first at St Joseph’s Hospital and then from March 1991 at Avenue de Broqueville 60, Brussels (map) he performed over 1,600 mtf genital operations, and some ftm top surgery. He generally insisted that a patient be 21 or older, but did the operation on a younger US girl who was accompanied by her mother.

In 1988 a registered nurse from the US, Michelle Hunt, herself trans, stayed on in Brussels after her operation. She met Dr Seghers’ US patients at the airport, and took them to his office. She also toured trans groups in the US, and made appointments for surgery where appropriate. However she held back the name of the surgeon to protect him from enquiry letters which generated criticism. In Fall 1993 there was conflict between Michelle Hunt and the Ingersoll Gender Center in that their respective booklets on Dr Seghers' services were similar.

Dr Seghers retired in 2001. He died at age 82.


Patients include:
patient of French psychiatrist, early 1970s
Maud Marin, 1974
Yeda Brown, 1975
Veronica Jean Brown, 1985 – doesn’t give Seghers’ name.
Michelle Duff, 1987
Michelle Hunt, 1988
April, 1991, arrived with a bout of the flu. Had to come back at a later date.
Lechane Bezuidenhout, 1992
Christine White, 1993
Rusty Mae Moore, Chelsea Goodwin, 1995
Karine Espineira, 1998
Catrina Day, 1999
Vidensbanken om kønsidentitet

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Veronica Jean Brown assured her readers that Dr Seghers is "American trained'.   Well he did one year in Cincinatti.   He did six years in Zaire.   So 'Zaire trained' would be more descriptive.   This is actually very relevant.   He got a lot of experience reconstructing bodies that had been serously damaged by war and violence.   That kind of training makes a good surgeon.   Other sex-change surgeons who learned their skill in war zones include: David Wesser (Vietnam War),  Stanley Biber (Korean War), Howard Jones (WWII), Georges Burou (WWII), Harold Gillies (WWI & WWII).

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