As we reported in February, Denver Health was set to become the only hospital in Colorado to offer comprehensive gender reassignment surgeries, particularly vaginoplasty, lower surgery for transfeminine individuals (commonly referred to as male-to-female transition.)
Now, after a visit from Dr. Marci Bowers to train Denver Health surgeon Dr. Chris Carey, the hospital's doors are open to transgender and gender non-conforming folks looking for any gender confirmation procedures.
That means everything from hysterectomies and chest reconstruction to breast augmentation and facial feminization surgeries. And, yes vaginoplasty.
Bowers, a transgender woman herself, perfected techniques in vaginoplasty in Trinidad in the early aughts, before moving on to California. Since then, Coloradans who wished to surgically transition had to do so at great expense, traveling across the country on their own dime.
Denver Health offering this service with guidance from the master herself is revolutionary for trans and nonbinary people in Colorado, especially given the financial situation that many find themselves in. Transgender people are historically underemployed, and according to the National Center for Transgender Equality's U.S. Transgender Survey of 2015, 29 percent of respondents were living in poverty, compared to 12 percent in the greater U.S. population, often due to discrimination in employment.
And Denver Health, as it happens, accepts Medicaid for certain procedures, meaning there is now unprecedented access to life-saving services in our state. And these are life-saving services. Due to a variety of factors, largely relating to a lack of acceptance, transgender adults are 14 times more likely to consider suicide and 22 times more likely to attempt suicide than the general population, according to The Williams Institute of UCLA. The ability to be seen as the proper gender, and — more importantly — to live as one’s authentic self can drastically reduce the societal pressures that lead to suicidal ideation in transgender people.
Denver Health’s on a good path. Their LGBT Center of Excellence opened in January of 2017, and has since met the needs 550 new LGBTQ patients. In addition to gender confirmation surgeries, they provide behavioral health services, hormone therapy, HIV treatment and more — the full package.
Anyone who may want to look into their options in regard to new and established services can call a Denver Health transgender care navigator (a position every hospital should have) at 303/602-6819.