Though it might seem to be a relatively new phenomenon, transgender surgery, or sex reassignment surgery, has been around for a long time. The first surgery performed for a transgender individual was a mastectomy in 1926, done by the famous clinic of the German sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld. The first penectomy was done four years later, with the world’s first vaginoplasty the following year. (Unfortunately, the patient died shortly after.)
The first American to undergo surgery was Christine Jorgenson. In 1952, she traveled to Denmark and had it performed by Christian Hamburger. (She even chose her name to honor him.) Perhaps due to her beautiful looks and flowing blond hair, Jorgenson was well-received by the American public, becoming an icon for transgender people for decades afterwards.