Pamela (she/her) took gender-affirming hormones for more than 20 years. As her 40th birthday drew nearer, she was ready for the next step of her affirming journey.
“It was time to make a greater change,” Pamela says.
That change — something Pamela had wanted for a very long time — would be a bottom gender-affirming surgery, which she received at Temple. Such surgeries better align a person’s physical characteristics with their gender identity.
Growing up in a masculine body wasn’t easy for Pamela.
“I was about 8 or 7, and I noticed how my mom would leave certain shoes around, and I would put my feet in them, and I was like, oh, I like the way they feel!” Pamela says. “And it was almost like one of those things where I just was doing a lot of sneaky things that nobody knew, and it was comfortable to me.”
Pamela experienced a lot of adversity — from within her family and from residents of the Baltimore neighborhood where she lived.
“I had five brothers, one sister. At a point in my life while transitioning into who I wanted to be, they began to treat me differently,” Pamela recalls. “It was really rough for me. My toothbrush couldn't be with the rest of the family’s. I had girlfriends just to keep things quiet so my brothers wouldn't look at me differently.”
One day, Pamela was attacked when she went to the store to buy juice.
“My mom, before she passed, she told me, ’This city is trying to hurt my baby. I want you to go ahead and live your life and be the best and be happy at what you're doing,’” Pamela says.
Care that respects who you are
At Temple, Pamela met with Laura M. Douglass, MD, (she/her) who specializes in gender-affirming surgeries.
“My relationship with Dr. Douglass is wonderful,” Pamela says. “She was so bubbly. And I was like, ‘Oh, wow, this is the doctor!?’ And she was so beautiful. She was sweet. She was so kind. And from that point on, I felt so comfortable to share with her.”
Dr. Douglass is one of several gender-affirming providers at Temple, which is recognized as an LGBTQ+ Healthcare Quality Leader by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. Led by Dr. Douglass, the surgical team helped Pamela prepare medically and emotionally for her surgery and supported her throughout her surgery process.
“All the feelings that you feel before surgery — ranging from positive to negative, nervous, anxious, excited — I went through it all,” Pamela says.
Celebrating a new life on her 40th birthday
Pamela's surgery was successful, she experienced great results, and her hospital recovery went smoothly.
The day that Pamela first got to see her results happened to be on her 40th birthday. Pamela’s nurses brought her cake and balloons and decorated her entire room to help her celebrate.
“I cried during the ‘Happy Birthday’ song. I think I cried because I was so excited to see what I was looking like because I had heard so many different stories,” Pamela says. “The most exciting part was that I was able to wake up on my 40th birthday and become the new woman that I am today.”
After about a week in the hospital, Pamela went home to complete her recovery.
As she looks back on her surgery journey and hospital stay, Pamela reflects on her positive experience.
“I felt very comfortable with everyone I came across,” she says. “The nurses, the care providers … everyone has done a marvelous job at Temple.”
Sharing a critical message
Pamela is sharing her story because she wants other people to know about gender-affirming options, particularly those available at Temple.