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Chicago’s Surgery Museum Plans Sex Reassignment Exhibit

A Chicago museum chronicling the history of surgery through medical artifacts, paintings and sculptures is planning to open an exhibit later this year on sex-reassignment procedures.

Image: Exterior of the International Museum of Surgical Science
Exterior of the International Museum of Surgical Science in Chicago. International Museum of Surgical Science

Curators at the International Museum of Surgical Science said the issue has become more prominent in social, cultural and political conversations and the museum hopes to contribute to the discussion in medical and surgical terms, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Collin Pressler, the museum's director of exhibitions, said he hopes to "demystify" the "relatively obscure" topic.

"The museum doesn't shy away from real and accurate depictions of surgery," he said. "That's how you educate."

He hopes the exhibit will open before the end of the year as museum officials work on fundraising and designing the display.

About 700,000 people in the United States identify as transgender, according to a 2016 University of California study. Up to 500 sex-reassignment operations are performed annually in the country, according to the online Encyclopedia of Surgery.

The museum near downtown Chicago features over 7,000 medical artifacts that cover centuries of medical history, from acupuncture to X-ray treatments. Artist renderings also depict procedures, including a life-size painting of a woman undergoing a cesarean section in Colombia in 1844.

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