1915 - 1962

Assigned female at birth, Michael Dillon is the first transgender man known to have undergone gender confirmation surgery. Drawn to the Church, he graduated from St. Anne's College in 1938 with a degree in theology. Knowing that women’s opportunities were limited, Dillon obtained a prescription for synthetic testosterone in 1939 and underwent chest reconstruction in 1942. Re-registering as Lawrence Michael Dillon on April 14, 1944 was followed by thirteen surgeries between 1945 and 1949 to complete the phalloplasty. While in transition, Dillon wrote the first medico-legal treatise on gender confirmation surgeries, laying the groundwork for what would come to be called "transsexuality." After completing medical school, he served as a ship's surgeon in the Merchant Navy. When the media exposed his transgender identity in 1959, he took refuge in the practice of Buddhism. Before he was to be ordained as a monk he succumbed to an unknown illness in India and died on May 15, 1962. Though contemporary understanding of transgender origins tends to focus on the trangender pioneer Christine Jorgensen, Michael Dillon’s transition predated them all. At the intersection of ethics, medicine, biology, religion, philosophy – and transsexuality – his life was an evolving struggle toward physical, intellectual, and spiritual integrity.


Gender Male

Sexual Orientation Unknown

Gender Identity Transgender

Ethnicity Caucasian/White

Faith Construct Buddhist

Nations Affiliated United Kingdom India Ireland

Field(s) of Contribution




Commemorations & Honors

First White European Man Ordained in the Tibetan Buddhist Tradition



Original Biography Author
Victor Salvo
Biography Edited By
Owen Keehnen
Resources Coordination
Carrie Maxwell