Robert Eads (18 December 1945 - 17 January 1999 in Toccoa, Georgia) was a female-to-male transsexual, whose life and death was the subject of the award-winning documentary Southern Comfort.

Robert's given name at birth was "Barbara," and he spent the first forty years of his life as a woman, even going so far as to be married to a man and give birth to two sons. He 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 man) feel even more "trapped" inside his female body. He divorced his husband after the birth of his second son, and lived 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 gay female.

Robert began transitioning to life as a male in the late 1980s following a move to Florida. He began testosterone therapy and underwent a modified double mastectomy to create a male physique. However, given his somewhat advanced age (early to mid 40's) 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, and despite being a man, retained external female genitalia throughout his entire life. 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. [1] [2]

At the time Southern Comfort was filmed in 1998, Eads was dying of ovarian cancer which had metastasized to his uterus, cervix, and abdominal organs. Although the cancer had been initially diagnosed after a severe bout of abdominal pain and vaginal bleeding led Eads to seek emergency medical treatment, more than two 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 - nearly one year after the time of his initial diagnosis - that he was finally accepted for treatment by the Medical College of Georgia hospital, where he underwent surgical, medical, and radiation therapy over the next year. [3]

Despite this aggressive treatment, help ultimately came too late for Robert, who died at his home in 1999 at the age of 53. Eads is believed to have had either stage III or stage IV ovarian cancer at the time of diagnosis. The average five-year survival rate for stage III ovarian cancer is 21%, and for stage IV is less than 5%.


  1. Southern Comfort (2001 film)
  2. Southern Comfort (2001 film) - Deleted scene "Robert on Family"
  3. Southern Comfort (2001 film) - Deleted scene "Robert on the Medical Process"

See also