Silicone ‘pumping party’ hospitalizes three San Diego transsexuals
North Park party leaves two women on life support, another in critical condition
Published Thursday, 23-Jun-2005 in issue 913
A transgender ‘pumping party,’ in which budget silicone injections are administered without medical supervision, turned to tragedy on Sunday as two women were rushed to the hospital with breathing difficulties.
The two male-to-female transsexuals have been treated at Scripps Mercy hospital since Sunday, for blood poisoning.
At press time, both are on life support machines and one was released from the trauma center.
Two other women who attended the party on Florida Street in North Park were examined at the North Park Family Health Center on Tuesday and given the all-clear.
San Diego Police Department released a statement which said there is a possibility that the same suspect also injected several other people with silicone during the past weekend. Detectives would like to interview these people as well as ask that they call the Homicide Unit at (619) 533-3293.
These underground “pumping parties” are popular among the transgender community for being an accessible, affordable and apparently safe way to achieve immediately-visible physical results.
AJ Davis, director of public policy at The Center, said, “These parties are very popular and many people in the transgender community don’t understand the dangers of it. Unfortunately, this type of treatment is more accessible to them, less expensive and appears to be safe, although it is not.”
The woman who illegally administered the procedures is now being sought by San Diego Police Department and is thought to be based in Los Angeles. She could be charged with manslaughter or second-degree murder, depending on the circumstances of the case.
Janie Corday, Research Director for the Medical Board of California, said, “As long as a licensed doctor performs the injections, it can be done at a party or at someone’s home. If a nurse does it [silicone injections], a doctor must be present. Certainly, no unlicensed person should be doing it; it’s against the law and just plain dangerous,” she said.
Corday added that in addition to the tendency for medical grade silicone to “migrate” from the area it is injected to sometimes causing disfigurement, the biggest risk of using “backstreet” cosmetic surgeons is not knowing what is actually being injected into the body.
“Probably the biggest risk is that they don’t know what’s being put into their bodies.” Corday said, “Anytime you have someone that doesn’t know medicine doing a medical procedure, if there are complications, you don’t have anyone to go to who can identify that [the injected substance].”
“Pumping” involves injecting the silicone directly into the body, rather than medical grade silicone which is implanted under the skin in sealed sacs to prevent leaking. According to experts in recent national “pumping party” cases, industrial silicone is often mixed with paraffin, oil and even peanut butter, and can cause serious infections, particularly in the lungs.
In February a transsexual woman in Albany, Ga. was imprisoned for involuntary manslaughter in the death of Andre Geter, who died from blood poisoning in December 2003 after being illegally injected with silicone sealer, available in hardware stores.
Stephen Thomas had hosted “pumping parties” for pre-operative transsexuals and charged $300-$400 for the injections, and was sentenced to 15 years, five to be served in a male prison, as she had not changed her legal documents to reflect her female status.
In July 2003, two transsexuals in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., were tried for the third-degree murder of Vera Lawrence in 2001, who was injected with up to 3 gallons of industrial silicone at “pumping parties.”
Three transgender women in Houston also died in 2003 due to complications following illegal silicone injections administered by fellow transsexual, Guadalupe Camarena, who was sentenced to five years in prison.
“You can’t live a happy, healthy, long life in the gender you aspire to, if you’re dead,” Corday added. “The risks are so high [with unlicensed practitioners] that it’s worth waiting, so that you have the rest of your life.”
If you have received silicone injections, seek medical advice. The Transgender Health Clinic at North Park Family Health Centers can be contacted on (619) 515-2449 or call The Center at (619) 692-2077.