Elijah Stephens was assigned female at birth but started transitioning to male at 18, having always felt ‘different’. She is 28 now.
Ten years back, the process was far more tabooed in America. However, in 2016, a policy change meant gender-reassignment could be covered by Medicare and Medicaid.
In February, Stephens, who recently got engaged to his long-term girlfriend Alicia, became the first person to undergo the operation in New Jersey, and one of a growing number across the United States.
Four months later everything is working well: he has perfected the art of standing to urinate and even achieved an orgasm via nerves connected to the clitoris.
The next step in his transition is to implant a pump so he can achieve an erection.
Speaking about it Stephens says that for him, it is the thought of wholeness. “When I looked at myself in the mirror, there were parts missing,” Stephens said.
The operation was performed at the Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, New Jersey in February - the inaugural operation for the new team of surgeons at the Rutgers Center for Transgender Health, which launched on January 1, 2018.
It was conducted by Dr Jonathan Keith, founder of the center, who is an expert in microsurgery - or, as he puts it, 'moving skin from one part of the body to another'.