Cedars-Sinai: The Rare Hospital That Offers Gender-Affirming Surgery

transgender, gender affirming surgery
Dr. Maurice Garcia with his patient, Liz Youngs (Photo courtesy of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center)

Liz Youngs remembers vividly the day her life changed forever. It was her 50th birthday — April 19, 2017. That marked the end of a 32-year quest to complete her transition from life as a man to life as a woman.

Youngs’ gradual transition, which began at age 18, included psychiatric and psychological evaluations, four years of hormone treatments and a lengthy search to find the right surgeon and support care. Following six-hour gender-affirming genital surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and a three-month recovery at home, Youngs is now, she says, the person she always was meant to be.

“I’m complete,” said the retired Orange County office worker. “I’m finally happy. I’m comfortable with who I am. I have a whole new life ahead of me.”

Youngs attributes her newfound happiness in large part to the comprehensive services Cedars-Sinai offers transgender people — including gender-affirming and plastic surgeries, hormone management and mental health counseling — through a program designed to meet the needs of this underserved population.

The new interdisciplinary, research-based Transgender Surgery and Health Program is directed by Dr. Maurice Garcia, a leading figure in the field who joined Cedars-Sinai from UC San Francisco Medical Center. The program is staffed by specialists invested in helping members of the transgender community at every stage of their journeys. Garcia began gender reassignment surgeries in March and since then has done more than 100.

“The bedrock of our program is that we’re as committed to follow-up care as we are to patients’ initial care, something for which an academic medical center is ideally suited,” said Garcia, a board-certified urologist.

Cedars-Sinai is one of only two academic medical centers in the western United States that offers gender-affirming genital surgery, Garcia said. (To read more, click here.)