The “top top surgeon,” as he was affectionately labeled, was honored for his commitment to gender-affirming surgery at Fair Wisconsin’s 2017 Gala Dinner and Leadership Awards in February. Dr. Clifford King, M.D., a Madison-based plastic surgeon, received the organization’s Community Leadership Award at the Feb. 25 event.
King moved many to tears with his acceptance speech, telling the audience his dedication to chest surgery for trans persons — both male-to-female and female-to male — grew from a deep sense of regret that he had not done more as a busy young doctor-in-training to support a dear friend dying of AIDS.
Kathy Flores, statewide LGBTQ anti-violence coordinator for Diverse & Resilient, introduced King by reading letters from patients. Wrote one:
“Prior to my surgery … I bound my chest tightly every day for over a decade, which in effect bound my spirit. Since my surgery, every day — multiple times a day — I notice my chest and smile inside and out. Sometimes I get choked up with gratitude and relief. I’m grateful to Dr. King for making my dream a reality and doing so in such a tender, respectful way and with such skill.”
The audience responded with a lengthy standing ovation for King.