For Kal-Elle Jagger, the long journey to coming out as a transgender woman was filled with denial, abuse, and pain. But, Jagger says one of the bright spots was finding health services and support from the staff at NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan.
Earlier this year, Jagger was searching for surgeons in New York City to perform breast augmentation procedure and was given a list by her primary care doctor. But as she began making calls, her frustration grew as she found many health centers did not offer the procedure.
During one call, the person speaking to Jagger sensed her dismay and suggested she call Metropolitan, which had recently started offering procedures for transgender patients. After securing the pre-surgical clearances and documentation, Jagger had the procedure, commonly known as “top surgery.”
“When I called, it was exactly what I needed at the time,” said Jagger. “The welcoming words, the friendly voice. It was amazing.”
Similar to many transgender patients, Jagger said the surgery served as a turning point. For nearly 40 years, Jagger said she denied her trans identity, and lived as a gay man. Two years ago, amid a growing nationwide trans movement, Jagger said she finally gave in to who she truly was.
“I accepted who I was and the surgery was my first big step,” she said, “and the fact that I was able to get this done, it’s a miracle.”
“I’m finally a step closer to who I am,” she said.
Dr. Aron Kressel, chief plastic surgeon at NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan, says offering gender affirming surgeries is just one way our health system is affirming care to trans patients.
“Not all trans patients need surgeries, but we need to be sure we are able to provide this for those who do,” Kressel said. “Offering this service allows us to improve our patients’ quality of life, and truly meet their health care needs.”
NYC Health + Hospitals has been recognized as a leader in providing a welcoming environment and culturally responsive health care services for LGBTQ patients. NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan is one of only a few hospitals in New York City offering health services specifically for transgender patients, including gender-affirming surgeries and increased access to hormone therapy.
Jagger said the support she received at NYC Health + Hospitals transformed her outlook on health care.
“I’m taking care of things that I had been neglecting for 30 years,” she said. “And it helps that people are there for you and understand.”
Emotionally, Jagger said her self-confidence has grown stronger. Standing at 6’ 3” in heels, she often draws attention when she walks down the street. But now, she takes it all in stride.
“I’ve never been happier to be alive and be who I am right now. I’m feeling more me,” she said. “People see me a mile away and they stare at me. Now, I just accept that. I can’t change it, so I embrace it.”
Learn more about NYC Health + Hospitals LGBTQ Health Care Services.