Boston Medical Center to become first in state to offer gender reassignment surgery

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In the face of rising demand for the procedure, Boston Medical Center intends on becoming the first hospital in Massachusetts to provide gender reassignment surgery as a treatment option for the transgender community, The Boston Globe reports. BMC would also be one of the first in the country to offer the procedure.

Previously, only the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore and the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor had comprehensive gender reassignment programs in place, according to the report. Outside these major hospitals, there are some surgeons who perform the procedure, but they do so in private clinics.

Although the Boston Medical Center hasn't had a widely publicized gender reassignment program until now, more than 100 patients have already signed up for the surgery's waiting list.

"The demand for care from the transgender community is significant and has not been met," Joshua Safer, MD, an endocrinologist and medical director of BMC's new Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery, told the Globe. "It's a community that has been neglected for years and years."

Dr. Safer's observation about care for the transgender community is not isolated to Boston, it is an prevalent issue across the country.

According to the Globe, few hospitals offer gender reassignment surgeries, but that may start to change as insurance plans expand to cover the procedure and the practice becomes more accepted by the public.

Already, existing gender reassignment programs have seen interest spike. Rachel Bluebond-Langner, MD, a plastic surgeon at UMMC, told the Globe, "We have seen a tremendous increase in the last year because of changes in health insurance coverage."

BMC is slated to begin offering male-to-female surgery later this summer. It may even expand the program to eventually include female-to-male surgery, which is more complex.

Already, the hospital has established some rules regarding gender reassignment surgery. For example, patients must be at least 18 years old and have lived for 12 months or longer in their new gender. Also, a multidisciplinary panel at the hospital will review every applicant's medical and mental health history before accepting a patient for the procedure.

 

 

More articles on transgender health:
HHS finalizes antibias protections to transgender people: 10 things to know
Hawaii bill prohibits insurers from discriminating based on gender identity
Decision aids can improve care for LGBTQ patients of color

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