Born Laura Maud Dillon in 1915, the second child of Sir John Fox Dillon, the seventh Baronet of Lismullen, Laurence Michael Dillon was the first female-to-male transsexual to undergo phalloplasty to create a penis.
Dillon, who went to Oxford and was president of the Women’s Boat Club and won a rowing award, started to transition from a woman to a man when he began receiving testosterone, which ultimately enabled him to pass as a man. He next underwent a double-mastectomy, and received a doctor’s note which allowed him to change his birth certificate officially. The doctor referred him to plastic surgeon Harold Gillies, who agreed to perform the phalloplasty once his heavy caseload from WWII eased up.
In the meantime, Dillon was accepted to medical school at Trinity College, Dublin. It was during his medical training that Dr. Gillies performed the phalloplasty during a set of 13 operations. Dillon’s book, Self: A Study in Endocrinology and Ethics, the first of its kind covering the topic of transsexuality, was written at this time. It was also during this time that Dillon became involved with Roberta Cowell, who was undergoing male-to-female reassignment. It was Dillon who actually performed the orchidectomy, the removal of the testicles, which was illegal in Britain at the time. Dillon proposed marriage to Cowell, but was turned down. He then became a ship’s doctor, traveling to Asia, Australia and America.
Later, Dillon’s transition from female to male was exposed when discrepancies to the right of inheritance to the Dillon Baronetcy came to light. Dillon fled to India, where he entered several different Buddhist monasteries and wrote several books on Buddhism.
The austere life in the monasteries took a toll on his health, however, and he died in 1962 at the age of 47 at a hospital in Dalhousie.