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24 July 2017

Ellie Zara Ley (1974–) surgeon

Eleazer Ley was born in San Luis, Sonora. His mother was Chinese, and his father half-Chinese. Shortly after birth he developed a medical complication that the local doctors did not know how to deal with. Despite not having the correct papers, his mother was able to take the child across the US border to a hospital in Yuma, Arizona, purely with a doctor’s letter.

Ley grew up to be a doctor. He did undergraduate work in the US as a foreign student, returned to Mexico for medical school, and immigrated to the US. He worked at New York Medical College in Valhalla, NY and in the general surgery program at the University of Arizona. He then completed a fellowship in pediatric craniofacial plastic surgery at Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City. At the University of Southern California in Los Angeles he received fellowship training in hand and microsurgery, and then returned to the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, to complete a fellowship in plastic and reconstructive surgery.

He considered extending his skills into gender surgery, and researched how it was being done in Thailand. He had also married, and they had two daughters. He took a position in Tucson where his wife is from. Approaching 40, Ley had 14 years of medical school, residency, and three fellowships. He opened the Ley Institute of Plastic & Hand Surgery, LLC and the Arizona Craniofacial & Pediatric Plastic Surgery. He also did work in Nogales, Sonora, for the border community.

Then Ley had a damascene moment. Helping the two daughters with nail polish, it was suddenly apparent what was missing from life.
“It just stirred something inside of me that wouldn’t stop, this force. It was relentless after that. My feminine side just completely came out.”
Ley transitioned and was divorced in 2015. Ellie Zara Ley had surgery from Dr Toby Meltzer, who
Drs Meltzer & Ley
continued discussions with her for several months and then asked her to join his practice. She closed her Tucson practice, and moved to Scottsdale. She shadowed Meltzer’s surgeries, and is now taking on her own patients.


  1. This article needs to be updated to correct the misgendering of Dr. Ley.

  2. It is quite clear that until 2015, Dr Ley's preferred pronouns were he/him etc. He was a husband and father, and if you - knowing the future - had referred to Dr Ley in public as she/her etc at that time, Dr Ley would not have liked it.

    Person's pronouns change. We should respect whatever they prefer at any given point in time.

    1. Standard practice is to refer to a person by their current gender and pronouns

    2. Checking your profile, I see that you are keeping your gender and pronouns secret.

      I always use current name and gender when writing about a person's current status. However, I am usually writing history. A trans person's gender, name and pronouns change. Retrojection thereof can easily become very confusing. See those accounts of teenage girls referred to by the surname of a second husband whom they will not meet until 30 years later.

      Are we to presume that you are the kind of writer who writes: she went to a boys school, served in an all-male regiment and fathered several children.

      Ah, but your profile does not link us to your writings, so we cannot see.

  3. Dr Ley wrote:

    Hi Zagria,
    I came across your comprehensive site and I would like to help you update my information. Much has happened and I feel that it needs to be more accurate. Thank you for your work, Zara

    Certified by the American Board Of Plastic Surgery
    Member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons

    Plastic Surgery
    Craniofacial & Pediatric Plastic Surgery
    Hand & Microsurgery

    The Meltzer Clinic, PC
    7025 N Scottsdale Rd, Suite #302
    Scottsdale, AZ 85253
    O 480.657.7006 F 480.657.7020


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