Georges Burou was the son of a French teacher in Algeria. He qualified as a doctor, and initially worked in a gynecological clinic. After a fuss about abortions, he moved to Casablanca, Morocco in 1940. He served in the Fourth French-Moroccan Mountain Division, and was part of the liberation of Alsace.
Back in Casablanca he opened his Clinic du Parc at 13 rue Lapébie. Again he was the go-to doctor for women seeking an abortion. In 1956 he was approached by Jenny, a nightclub electrician, desperate to become a woman who had already been rejected by other gynecologists. In 1957 the newspaper France Dimanch carried a story about Jeannette Jiousselot, a carpenter who likewise was accepted by Dr Burou.
Burou developed a technique to create a vagina using a live graft taken from the penile skin, and continued to refine and improve it. He was initially unaware of previous such work by Ludwig Levy-Lenz in Berlin in the 1930s; Lennox Broster in London in the 1930s and 1940s; Harold Gillies in England in the 1940s and 1950s; Elmer Belt in Los Angeles in the 1950s.
It was Jenny who informed Coccinelle of what Dr Burou could do, and over the next few years several performers from Le Carousel, not only Coccinelle but Bambi, April Ashley, Amanda Lear and Capucine came for the operation, and Borou became famous as the sex change doctor of choice.
Dr Burou was also the first doctor in Morroco to offer in vitro fertilization. This was often without the consent of the husband, so as not to offend his manhood.
In the US the rich businessman whom we know as Rex/Gloria, who herself felt too old for surgery, was adopting younger trans women and paying for them to go to Dr Burou. In addition, especially after Belt reduced and then discontinued his practice, Harry Benjamin sent many to Dr Burou for surgery. Many surgeons have credited Burou as the basis for their techniques, including Howard Jones and Stanley Biber.
Jan Morris, who arrived in 1972, refers to Burou only as "Dr B--". She was two weeks in his clinic:
"I did not know his address, but when I arrived in Casablanca I looked him up in the telephone book, and was told to come round to his clinic next afternoon. ... He was exceedingly handsome. He was small, dark, rather intense of feature, and was dressed as if for some kind of beach activity. He wore a dark blue open-necked shirt, sports trousers and games shoes, and he was very bronzed. He welcomed me with a bemused smile, as though his mind were in St Tropez. What could he do for me, he asked? I told him I thought he probably knew very well. 'Ah, I think that's so. You wish the operation. Very well, let us see you.' He examined my organs. He plumped my breasts - 'très, très bons'. He asked if I was an athlete. 'Very well,' he said, 'come in this evening, and we shall see what we can do. You know my fee? Ah well, perhaps you will discuss it with my receptionist - bien, au revoir, until this evening!' "
In 1973, Dr. Burou gave his first formal public presentation on his innovative surgical technique at a major conference held at the Stanford University Medical School. By that time he had performed over 3000 MtF operations.
"I do not transform men into women. I transform male genitals into genitals that have a feminine aspect. All the rest is in the patient's head."
1957 Jeannette Jiousselot
1958 Jacqueline Dufresnoy (Coccinelle)
1960 Marie-Pierre Pruvot (Bambi)
1961 Gloria Greaves
1963 Amanda Lear
1964 Benjamin patient examined by Richard Green
1968 Risa Bella, who performed as Naughty Lola
1969 Jacqueline Galiaci
1970 Della Aleksander
1971 Colette Berends
1972 Jan Morris
1973 Jean Lessenich
1975 Vanessa Van Durme
1980 Marcella Di Folco
Renée Richards famously came to Burou's door in the mid 1960s but then turned away.
Burou was a keen water-skier. He drowned under his boat at age 77.
- Jan Morris. Conundrum. London: Faber and Faber. 1974: 126-8.
- Georges Burou. “Male to Female Transformation”. Donald R. Laub & Patrick Gandy (eds). Proceedings Of The Second Interdisciplinary Symposium On Gender Dysphoria Syndrome. Stanford University School of Medicine. 1973. Online at: http://ai.eecs.umich.edu/people/conway/TS/Burou/Burou.html.
- Maxime Foerster. Histoire des transsexuels en France. Paris: Harmatten 2003. Beziers: H&O 2006: 21, 76, 78, 97-100, 170-1.
- J Joris Hage, Refaat B. Karim, Donald R. Laub Sr. “On the Origin of Pedicled Skin Inversion Vaginoplasty: Life and Work of Dr Georges Burou of Casablanca”. Annals of Plastic Surgery. Dec 2007, 59,6: 723-9.
- “Dr. Burou – de man achter operatie ‘Casablanca’”. What the Papers Say. http://www.europeants.org/WTPS/Papers/burou.htm.
- “Mémoire: En souvenir des transsexuels”. www.dianeetlesexedesanges.ch/3colset008/_souvenirs-d-un-passe-insolite.htm
- Bambi. “Un jour que j’étais en tournée à Nice”. www.dianeetlesexedesanges.ch/3colset008/_page-anecdote1operations.htm.
- Michiel van Erp (dir). I am a Woman Now, with April Ashley, Marie-Pierre Pruvot, Colette Berends, Jean Lessenich, Corinne. Netherlands 80 mins 2011. A documentary about 5 of Dr Burou's early patients.
- Aurélie Hazan. "Casablanca, la Mecque mythique des transsexuels Dans le Casablanca des années 60 et 70, un gynécologue génial et amoral avait fait de la mégapole marocaine la capitale mondiale du changement de sexe." Slate Afrique, 03/10/2012. www.slateafrique.com/95531/societe-maroc-casablanca-la-mecque-des-transsexuels.