Serbia: An Unlikely Sex-Change Mecca

Foreigners drawn to expertise, low prices in otherwise repressed country
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 24, 2012 12:31 PM CDT

(Newser) – Serbia isn't exactly a sexually liberated country—just 20 years ago newspapers were publicly declaring transsexuality a blasphemous act, and last year's gay pride parade was canceled after protesters threw gasoline bombs and chanted, "Death to homosexuals." But somehow, it's become the go-to place for sex-change operations in Eastern Europe, the New York Times reports. Four clinics there specialize in the procedure, and almost 100 people underwent it last year.

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To put that in perspective, the US has only five surgeons who regularly perform sex changes. "It is surprising that a conservative, patriarchal country is becoming a center for sex-change operations, but social attitudes are slowly shifting," says one transgender activist. A Serbian surgeon became an early practitioner of the procedure in 1989, attracting foreign patients and doctors intrigued by the challenge. Now, foreigners come for Serbia's know-how, and cheap prices—the operation costs about $10,000 there, compared to $50,000 in the US. (Read more Serbia stories.)

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