Stanley Biber, a Pioneer of Gender-Affirming Surgery and Trinidad Resident

Up until 2006, the small town of Trinidad, Colorado, housed a county commissioner, physician, Army veteran, rancher and a pioneer in the field of gender-affirming surgery. Dr. Stanley Biber was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1923. 

His career began in World War II, where he served in Alaska as a member of the Office of Strategic Services. Just a few years later, after graduating with a medical degree from the University of Iowa, he headed a mobile army surgical hospital in Korea. 

Upon his return from Korea, Biber was stationed in what would later become Fort Carson, a move to the state that would become permanent. He then moved farther south to Trinidad for a job with the United Mine Workers of America. At the time, he practiced as a physician and was the town’s only surgeon. 

It was during his work for the UMW that Biber first had interactions with the courts. In January 1957, Biber was charged alongside another doctor with violating Colorado’s Medical Practices Act. It was alleged that Biber had violated the act, which forbade a doctor from working for any corporation, according to an article from The Rocky Mountain News. Ultimately, the charges against Biber were dismissed. 

A year later, in January 1958, Biber and a fellow doctor accused the Las Animas County Medical Society and seven doctors of conspiring to restrain their trade, according to an article from The Rocky Mountain News. 

While these court cases ended up in state news, it was the work Biber began in 1969 that would make him renowned across the world. A social worker who had often brought clients to Biber for surgery approached him and told him that she was a transgender woman. She asked Biber to perform a gender-affirming surgery for her. 

The surgery was still new at the time, and to perform it Biber obtained a set of hand-drawn diagrams from the John Hopkins University Hospital. The surgery was a success, and Biber would go on to perform thousands of similar surgeries over the next three decades. 

Later in his career, Biber entered the political realm. Biber was part of a recall effort in 1990 that removed commissioner James Healy from office. He then ran himself and won in a special election, despite some local furor about his medical practice, according to an Associated Press article. 

Following his electoral success, Biber found himself in the courts once again. Biber was named in a suit from a former Las Animas County road and bridge employee, who was dismissed soon after Biber’s special election victory. 

Biber retired in 2003, a choice forced upon him after he couldn’t find a medical malpractice insurer that would carry him. He passed away three years later in 2006 from complications of pneumonia.

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