Texas gender clinic dubbed ‘Frankenstein’s lab’ performs hundreds of experimental surgeries each year – including giving patients a penis AND vagina and ‘Barbie-dolling’ clients by removing both

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  • WARNING: This story contains graphic images

A gender clinic in Texas dubbed ‘Frankenstein’s lab’ has performed hundreds of unconventional genital surgeries that many experts describe as ‘dangerous.’

The Crane Center for Transgender Surgery in Austin bills itself as a world leader in operations for non-binary people – those who don’t identify exclusively with one gender.

The surgeries include giving patients a penis and vagina, or completely removing their sex organs, essentially ‘Barbie-dolling your genitals,’ as one critic put it.

The center director, Dr Curtis Crane, has previously bragged he couldn’t ‘think of a surgical request that I haven’t been able to fulfill.’ 

Prices for the procedures range from $10,000 to $70,000 depending on the complexity. 

LGBTQ groups say the operations benefit patients’ mental health, while opponents say it shows how far off the rails gender-affirming treatment has gone. 

Dr Curtis Crane with a patient – it is not known what procedures the above patient received from the clinic

The Crane Center for Transgender Surgery's director Dr Curtis Crane previously bragged he couldn't 'think of a surgical request that I haven't been able to fulfill'

The Crane Center for Transgender Surgery’s director Dr Curtis Crane previously bragged he couldn’t ‘think of a surgical request that I haven’t been able to fulfill’

Jay Richards, a fellow at the Conservative Heritage Foundation think-tank, told DailyMail.com: ‘It’s tempting to compare clinics engaged in these ghoulish procedures to Frankenstein’s lab. But that would be uncharitable to Dr. Frankenstein.’ 

He added: ‘Non-binary and nullification surgeries reveal the sheer madness of gender ideology. 

‘It started with surgeries to make males look like females, and vice versa. But it doesn’t end there, because the ideology’s definition of “gender identity” is completely untethered from our sexed bodies. 

‘It reduces the human person to a mere internal sense of gender, which has no limiting principle and so can mean anything.’

Experts describe the newer nonbinary procedures as ‘experimental’ because there is extremely limited research on the topic and long-term outcomes and side effects are not well known. 

While this is not the only clinic that performs these surgeries, Dr Crane said his practice, which also has locations in San Francisco and Boulder, Colorado, is a leader in the field.

The Crane Center has locations in Austin, San Francisco and Boulder, Colorado, with nearly a dozen practitioners (Dr Crane pictured performing an operation at the clinic)

The Crane Center has locations in Austin, San Francisco and Boulder, Colorado, with nearly a dozen practitioners (Dr Crane pictured performing an operation at the clinic)

Dr Crane – who has been dubbed ‘a crazy butcher’ by people on Twitter – claims he is one of the only practitioners in the world who is both a plastic surgeon and urologist, who has also done fellowships in transgender surgery and reconstructive urology.

However, the surgeon and his clinic have been on the receiving end of at least eight lawsuits from 2017 to 2019 in California. 

While all of the suits have been dismissed, former patients allege the doctor and his team performed incorrect and unnecessary surgeries, ignored suspected infections and surgical complications that caused debilitating pain and hospitalization and lied about his success and complication rates.

DailyMail.com has reached out to the Crane Center for comment but has not received a response.  

According to the website, the Crane Center, which has nearly a dozen practitioners across its sites, has performed more than 1,000 phalloplasties (which involve crafting a penis) since 2012.

Its doctors perform more than 200 top surgeries and 150 vaginoplasties (the crafting of a vagina) per year. 

Dr Crane said in a 2020 Facebook Live: ‘We offer everything you can think of. 

‘I opened this practice eight years ago. I’ve seen thousands of patients from the [LGBTQ] community. 

‘I can’t think of a time that a patient has come up with a surgical request that I haven’t been able to fulfill. I really can come up with any reasonable surgery that a patient asks for.’

One of the nonbinary procedures performed by the Crane Clinic is known as a phallus-preserving vaginoplasty, which is performed on biological males who want to keep their penis while also getting a vagina.

Genital nullification  involves removing all external genitalia, which Twitter user and musician Serena Patrick said was 'Barbie-dolling your genitals'

With a phallus-preserving vaginoplasty or vaginal-preserving phalloplasty the vaginal opening is located just underneath the base of the penis' shaft

Genital nullification involves removing all external genitalia, which Twitter user and musician Serena Patrick said was ‘Barbie-dolling your genitals’ (left).  With a phallus-preserving vaginoplasty or vaginal-preserving phalloplasty the vaginal opening is located just underneath the base of the penis’ shaft (right)

A vaginal-preserving phalloplasty is the opposite – it constructs a penis for the person without surgically removing their vagina. 

In people who have either of these surgeries, the vaginal opening is located just underneath the base of the penis’ shaft. 

Exact numbers of preserving procedures performed are not known, though Dr Crane did say he has performed ‘hundreds’ and has had more than 2,000 patients for various gender-affirming surgeries since he took over the clinic, which had only done top surgeries under the founder who has since retired.

Stella O’Malley, director of Genspect, a campaign group, told DailyMail.com: ‘Surgical interventions for non-binary identities are not necessary and arguably cause more harm than good. 

‘Extreme body modifications such as nullification should not be carried out merely because the patient wants it. 

‘Surgeons should not be viewed as shopkeepers who can dispense whatever the customer wants. They are doctors and they should be bound by the principle to first do no harm. ‘

Dr Crane said patients who seek the surgery often want to keep the sex organ they were born with for sexual pleasure but have the other organ constructed to align more with their gender identity. 

A less common genital procedure that Dr Crane did not detail is called penile splitting, a type of body modification that splits the penis into two separate sections at various points. It is not known if the clinic performs this

A less common genital procedure that Dr Crane did not detail is called penile splitting, a type of body modification that splits the penis into two separate sections at various points. It is not known if the clinic performs this

Penis splitting is done either because someone simply likes the way it looks or because they want to increase sexual pleasure. It is not known if the clinic performs this

Penis splitting is done either because someone simply likes the way it looks or because they want to increase sexual pleasure. It is not known if the clinic performs this

An illustration from Healthline demonstrates whole-shaft splitting, which sees the entire penis cut into two separate parts. It is not known if the clinic performs this

An illustration from Healthline demonstrates whole-shaft splitting, which sees the entire penis cut into two separate parts. It is not known if the clinic performs this

An illustration from Healthline demonstrates inversion splitting, which sees a portion of the middle of the penis split into two, creating a small space. It is not known if the clinic performs this

An illustration from Healthline demonstrates inversion splitting, which sees a portion of the middle of the penis split into two, creating a small space. It is not known if the clinic performs this

In traditional gender-affirming surgery, skin, muscle, nerves and tissue are taken from either the penis or vagina to construct the new genital.

But when a patient wants to keep their given sex organ and get the one they desire, doctors take those materials from other parts of the body, most commonly the abdomen or thigh. 

When performing a traditional vaginectomy, sexual sensation in the newly formed penis comes from cutting nerves in the clitoris and attaching them to the flap that creates the penis. 

After approximately nine months the nerves grow long enough to create sensation in a majority of the penis. 

Dr Crane said his practice is a leader in gender surgeries because of his extensive training

Dr Crane said his practice is a leader in gender surgeries because of his extensive training

In someone who wants to keep their vagina, however – the nerve system around the female sex organ is completely different than the nerves from the clitoris, and those are used to create sensation in the new penis while maintaining sexual sensation in the vagina. 

For a newly constructed penis, doctors must also implant an erectile device in a separate surgery in order for the patient to achieve and maintain and erection. 

With a vaginal-preserving phalloplasty and a penile-preserving vaginoplasty, patients can resume sexual activity using either organ after three months, though full healing and nerve sensation can continue to improve up to two years post-op. 

While all operations have complications, Dr Crane said the risk is highest for developing a fistula – an abnormal connection between the urethra and the surrounding tissue – and a problem with urethral lengthening, both of which require additional surgeries to repair. 

The urethra is the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body.  

Urethral lengthening needs to be done when constructing a penis in order to allow the person to urinate while standing. The procedure involves extending the urethral opening to the tip of the phallus.

Dr Crane with a patient - it is not known what procedures the above patient received from the clinic

Dr Crane with a patient – it is not known what procedures the above patient received from the clinic

Complications from this include a weak stream, straining to urinate and not being able to empty the bladder. 

For people born with vaginas getting a penis who wish to retain the ability to have children, they can keep their reproductive organs with non-binary surgeries.

Sometimes, Dr Crane said, people keep their ovaries to harvest eggs to have children in the future. One patient he performed vaginal-preserving phalloplasty on kept her reproductive organs, got pregnant and gave birth to a baby. 

Another controversial genital surgery performed by the Crane Center is nullification surgery, also known as genital nullification, or nullo.

This operation involves removing all external genitalia to create a smooth transition from the abdomen to the groin, which Twitter user and musician Serena Patrick said was ‘Barbie-dolling your genitals, as long as you can pay for it.’

It typically removes specific genital tissue or altering it to create a more neutral or non-binary appearance, leaving only the urethral opening.

There are varying degrees of a nullo procedure, leaving some people still able to have sex, while others may only retain a small hole for the urethra to empty the bladder. 

Dr Richard told this website: ‘Nullification surgeries quite literally erase the visible sexual aspects of a person’s bodies. And some “non-binary” procedures treat the body as mere clay with the surgeon as the sculptor.’ 

Approximately 85 to 90 percent of procedures performed at the clinic are covered by insurance, Dr Crane said, though that comes with a lot of red tape, including mandatory mental health referrals and specific coded diagnoses that don’t always align with what the patient is actually experiencing. 

However, those paying cash ‘don’t have to go by insurance rules,’ meaning mental health evaluations or hormone therapy may not be required.

The center works on a ‘case-by-case’ basis when patients pay privately. 

A less common genital procedure that Dr Crane did not detail (it is not known if the clinic performs it) is called penile splitting.

It is a type of body modification that splits the penis into two separate sections at various points either because someone simply likes the way it looks or because they want to increase sexual pleasure. 

In some instances, the penis is split all the way in two from the head to the base of the shaft. Other options are to have just the tip or head of the penis split into two and the last is to split the penis in half in the middle of the shaft, leaving the head and base as one. 

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