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Eads transitioned later in life and as such it was deemed inadvisable to seek surgical sex assignment to male genitalia. Eads was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1996, but as an example of the social stigma faced by transgender individuals, more than a dozen doctors refused to medically treat him on the grounds that taking him on as a patient might harm their practice. When he was finally accepted for treatment in 1997 the cancer had "already metastasized to other parts of the body, rendering any further treatments futile."
Eads began transitioning in his forties, after a marriage to a man and after having borne two children. Eads later described being pregnant as "the best and the worst (time) in my life," as he was thrilled by the feeling of having another life grow inside him, but was also disgusted by the fact that his pregnancy made him as a trans man feel even more "trapped" inside his female body. He divorced his husband after the birth of their second son, and presented for some time as a lesbian, though he would later point out that he always viewed his attraction to women as the product of being a heterosexual man rather than a homosexual woman.
Eads began transitioning in the late 1980s following a move to Florida. He began testosterone therapy and underwent top surgery, in which breast tissue is removed, to create a male physique. However, given his age (early- to mid-40s) as well as the fact that he had already begun to show symptoms of menopause, Eads was counseled that he would not need to undergo a hysterectomy and oophorectomy as part of his sexual reassignment. Likewise, Eads never underwent phalloplasty. After living in Florida for some time, and following the failure of his second marriage (to a female psychologist), Eads moved back to Georgia in 1996.
In 1996, after a severe bout of abdominal pain and vaginal bleeding, Eads sought emergency medical treatment, and received a diagnosis of ovarian cancer. However, more than a dozen doctors subsequently refused to treat Eads on the grounds that taking him on as a patient might harm their practice.
It was not until 1997 that Eads was finally accepted for treatment by the Medical College of Georgia hospital, where he underwent surgical, medical, and radiation therapy over the next year. By the time Southern Comfort was filmed in 1998, the cancer had metastasized to the uterus, cervix, and other abdominal organs, and his prognosis was poor. Despite aggressive treatment, Eads died in a nursing home in Toccoa, Georgia in 1999 at the age of 53.
This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (February 2009) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
- Ravishankar, Mathura (January 18, 2013). "The Story About Robert Eads". The Journal of Global Health. Archived from the original on September 14, 2013. Retrieved September 13, 2013.
- Southern Comfort (2001), a 90-minute feature-length documentary about the life of Robert Eads
- Southern Comfort (2001) - Deleted scene: "Robert on Family"
- Southern Comfort (2001) - Deleted scene: "Robert on the Medical Process"