Dr. Pierre Brassard, 54
Medical director and owner of the Centre Métropolitain de Chirurgie in Montreal
He provides peace of mind to trans and gender-nonconforming people.
By Stéphanie Verge
The first time Dr. Pierre Brassard constructed a penis, he worked alone. He didn’t have a choice – it was 1993 and no one else in the country was performing phalloplasties using skin, nerves and blood vessels taken from the forearm.
A recognized plastic surgeon with an expertise in complicated reconstructions, Brassard had been asked to join forces with a team of psychiatrists from the University of Laval who were treating transgender patients at the Hotel Dieu hospital in Quebec City. “It took me 10 hours to connect all the nerves and blood vessels,” he says. “I was successful, but I realized I had much more to learn.”
No formal training was available, so Brassard went to the United States and Germany to see what other people were doing. He eventually joined a private practice in Montreal and in 2007 took the helm at the Centre Métropolitain de Chirurgie, the only clinic in Canada that performs genital surgeries and has an in-patient unit for recovery. There, supported by a staff of 80, trans patients can get gender-affirming procedures – which can include mastectomy, breast augmentation or vaginoplasty, among others – so that their physical sex is more in line with their gender identity.
People come from across the country and the world to be treated by Brassard and Drs. Maud Belanger and Eric Bensimon, the two colleagues he brought on board in 2011. Together, the surgeons perform approximately 500 procedures a year. “We make sure patients get where they want to be and that their suffering is lessened,” says Brassard. “I need to remain objective, but this is an emotional job. Every week, a patient will hug me and tell me that I saved their life.”