Irish gender affirmation surgeon based in Florida is reported over “false promotion” in TikToks
An Irish plastic surgeon based in Florida who has a huge social media following has been reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for alleged false promotion of services to under-18s.
Five organisations led by Genspect — an international alliance founded by Irish psychotherapist Stella O’Malley that has concerns about gender-affirmative treatment of young people — filed its complaint against Dr Sidhbh Gallagher in February.
Dr Gallagher, who runs Gallagher Plastic Surgery in Miami with the help of her sister Neasa, has amassed a huge social media following on TikTok, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook through her posts on transgender affirmation surgery.
The surgeon, who is originally from Co Louth and who studied in University College Dublin before moving to America, has over 270,000 followers on her main TikTok account and another 7,000 under “TheVagicianMD”.
In 2019 she met Simon Harris, the then health minister, to push for increased surgical capacity for gender reassignment surgery in Ireland. Dr Gallagher also features as one of 20 inspiring women in See It, Be It a book whose proceeds go to non-profit groups.
She has described herself as “Dr Teetus Deletus” online, in reference to her surgical removal of breast tissue for women transitioning to men. In her TikTok videos she regularly describes the procedure as “yeet the teets”. “Yeet” is slang for forcefully throwing something away.
Dr Gallagher has said she does up to 500 gender-affirmation surgeries a year. One a month involves a person under the age of 18.
In the complaint filed with the FTC, it is alleged Gallagher and her firm have “engaged in unfair, false, and deceptive practices in the aggressive advertising and marketing to minors of their plastic surgery services, namely mastectomies of healthy female breasts, as proven safe, effective, and medically necessary”.
The complaint includes examples of comments from social media users who say they are going to save their money so they can use Dr Gallagher when they become old enough.
The 14-page document says the videos are “part of a brand marketing scheme designed to create an online media persona for Gallagher as an entertaining celebrity surgeon in order to appeal to hundreds of thousands of underage social media users, advertise Gallagher’s ‘gender affirming’ plastic surgery services, and sell them to a vulnerable and impressionable population of children and youth experiencing distress with their gender identity and developing bodies”.
The complaint alleges the posts omit the real physical and psychological risks of surgery.
One of Dr Gallagher’s former patients, Grace Lidinsky-Smith, who has detransitioned, told the Medscape medical news website earlier this year she found some of the Irish surgeon’s TikToks painted a “falsely rosy picture”. In one video Dr Gallagher wears a red dress and flips her hair while the text says sadness in post-op patients is “temporary”.
The FTC would not say if it was investigating the complaint. Dr Gallagher did not respond to requests for comment. She told Medscape she used “gimmicky” terms because they are “the words of the community I serve” and this helped put patients at ease.
She said she followed standards that required mental health evaluations so the risk of regret in her patients “is incredibly low”. She also defended operating on patients under 18 years of age.
“Doing nothing isn’t necessarily a no-harm option,” said Dr Gallagher. “Arbitrarily picking the age of 18 and sentencing that patient to another year of dysphoria might not be the best risk–benefit calculus.”