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Gender-Affirming Facial Surgery Changed Chaska's Life

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Chaska feels so much more confident about her appearance

"I feel amazing. With my new look and appearance, I am able to do things that I never felt good about or safe doing before."

Chaska P. (she/her) is a Philadelphia artist and DJ, and a familiar face in the city’s dance club scene. But for a long time, Chaska felt uncomfortable with some of her facial features

“I would wear bangs to hide my forehead and brows,” she says. “I would wear these really big glasses that covered half my face.”

Chaska had been transitioning since her late 20s. After a decade of using gender-affirming hormones, she felt stuck. People still misgendered her because of her facial structure. “As a trans woman who’s kind of a public figure, my face is the first thing people see,” she says.

Chaska was harassed when she tried to go to the store in a dress, and at times, people became violent with her. Experiencing these negative reactions led to her living in fear. “It dictated how I dressed or presented myself,” Chaska says. “Plus, I would look at myself in a dress and think ‘this just doesn’t look right based on my face.’”

Some of Chaska’s friends had undergone gender-affirming facial feminization surgery (FFS). Facial feminization surgery can include a broad range of procedures like reshaping the forehead, jaw and chin; augmenting lips and cheeks; moving the hairline; tracheal shaving; and more. “I saw the results and how good it made them feel and how amazing they looked,” she says.

Chaska was interested in FFS for herself. Friends told her to check out Temple’s Gender-Affirming Surgery Program, and they also let her know the procedures can often be covered by health insurance.

An LGBTQ+ affirming team

Temple’s plastic surgeons perform a full spectrum of gender-affirming surgeries, including facial feminization surgery.

Temple is recognized by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation as an LGBTQ+ Healthcare Quality Leader, and has a dedicated team of LGBTQ-friendly and -affirming providers who offer many LGBTQ-friendly health services.

In 2020, Chaska met with Temple’s gender-affirming program manager, Dexter Rose (they/them), to start her surgery process.

“Dexter was just really great and got the process going for me and helped me through every step of the way,” Chaska says. “I feel like having Dexter there really helped a lot because they’re just really welcoming and thorough. They always checked in on me. Plus everyone at Temple was trans competent; I was never misgendered.”

Chaska also met surgeon Alireza Hamidian Jahromi, MD (he/him), who is fellowship-trained in gender-affirming surgery.

I immediately knew he was the right surgeon for me. I’d already heard good things about him. But meeting him really made me feel like Temple was the right place for me.

Chaska and Dr. Hamidian discussed her expectations for the surgery.

“I wanted to still look like myself, but a more feminine version of myself,” Chaska says.

“Dr. Hamidian knows what he is doing,” Chaska continues. “When he was looking at my face, I could already see the gears turning. He was really good about telling me what he could and couldn’t do based on my facial structure. I trusted that he was going to suggest the right things for me.”

Chaska also liked Dr. Hamidian’s approach, which emphasized pain management and proper healing after the surgery. “He explained that he has these special techniques he uses to reduce swelling and pain,” Chaska says. “That is something he really, really cares about.”

To prepare for surgery, Chaska needed, among other steps, to have a facial CT scan and insurance-required letter of support from her doctor. Dexter and the team helped Chaska understand all the steps.

“They helped me with all the logistical things surrounding the surgery,” Chaska says. “Anytime I had questions, they would get back to me quickly with an answer or a resource to help me. They help you through the process so you can go through this smoothly and understand it every step of the way.”

An amazing result

Chaska’s surgery is being done in multiple steps. She had her first surgery on Jan. 19, 2022. “I was very excited because I felt like my life was going to change,” Chaska says. “The nurses and everyone were just so nice. They made me feel at ease.”

During the procedure, Dr. Hamidian contoured Chaska’s forehead, reshaped her brow bone, and performed a brow lift. He also reduced the size of her Adam’s apple. These steps helped give Chaska the more feminine profile that she was looking for.

Chaska went home the day after her surgery. She was pleasantly surprised that she didn’t have bandages or a lot of swelling. Two to three weeks after the surgery, she was back doing most of her usual activities – including DJing.

How does she feel about the results of her first surgery? “Amazing,” Chaska says. “I feel like a whole new person. With my new look and appearance, I am able to do things that I never felt good about or safe doing before. I’ve bought more dresses and skirts than I have my whole life since my surgery. I’m also doing my hair in all sorts of different ways that are really cute and feel right with my face now.”

Since the surgery, she has not been misgendered. And she doesn’t feel held back anymore.

Chaska on the couch with her partner

I feel like I can move through the world as myself, without any reservations or fear.


“I don’t have to brace myself for harassment when I leave the house. The surgery has definitely changed my life. I feel like I look great and look like a woman. There’s no doubt that’s who I am.”

Chaska is looking forward to the next phases of her surgery, which will feminize the lower part of her face, including her nose, chin, and jaw.

Chaska felt such support and respect at Temple that she decided to transfer her routine medical care there as well. “To have access to a whole health care system that is queer- and trans-competent is really rare,” she says.

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