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Finding a Safe Haven

Standing at about 5’5″, Gavin Gray has a powerful-looking build, big biceps, and facial hair.

But Gray’s self-confidence came only after a long and complex process of transitioning from female to male. When he began searching for a transgender affirming health care provider, Gray was directed to the nationally recognized LGBTQ Health Center at NYC Health + Hospitals/ Metropolitan, where he found the safe, welcoming environment and quality care he needed.

At Metropolitan’s LGBTQ Health Center, the 22-year-old Gray received several services including hormone therapy. He is presently scheduled for chest masculinization surgery, commonly referred to as “top surgery.” NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan is one of the few hospitals in the city which performs this procedure.

“Up until two years ago,” Gray says, “I looked like a straight-up woman. Then I cut my hair and started testosterone treatments, and the shift has been crazy.”

Gray works full-time as a driver for a physician who makes house calls, and lives in the Bronx with his mom and sister, who he says now approve of his transition. But the struggle to reach a comfortable place with his family wasn’t easy.

“When I was 18 I kept asking mom for permission to get tattoos, and then I was like, I want to shave my head,” he recalls.

Continuing to change his appearance to reflect his gender identity meant risking relationships with friends and family, especially his grandmother. The turmoil he experienced eventually lead him to attempt to take his own life.

“They had to give me a blood transfusion. When I finally woke up, I told my mom, ‘I’m a dude, sorry if you can’t accept that.'”

At that point, his mother accepted him as her son. Since then, both mother and sister have been supportive.

“They call me “Gavin.” My mom puts it out there that on family visits, they better refer to me as “Gavin” or they gotta get out.”

Chief of Plastic Surgery Dr. Aron Kessel, who performs the gender-affirming surgery, emphasizes reach to all members of the LGBTQ community.

“This absolutely includes transgender and gender non-conforming patients who historically were underserved and highly vulnerable to discrimination in health care settings, leading them to not get care they might otherwise need,” Kressel said.

At the LGBTQ Health Center, Gray feels at home.

“Metropolitan has been like my safe haven,” he says “The doctors are great. I can ask them anything, and I can tell them anything.”

Learn more about NYC Health + Hospitals LGBTQ Health Care Services.