Gender-affirming care at Penn Medicine: A future ‘not in the shadows’

The Penn Medicine Program for LGBTQ+ Health and gender-affirming care at Penn Medicine has helped Mattie Chaya Kimberly ‘Kimi’ Klauser and others get the right care in an open, safe, and nurturing environment.

As a performer, Mattie Chaya Kimberly “Kimi” Klauser is accustomed to living in the stage lights. This year, Klauser began enjoying performance and her everyday life even more as she creates a future where she feels most herself.

“My experience with Penn Medicine was the thing that’s hopefully not just saved my life, but set me up for a future as a person who’s not in the shadows,” Klauser says. “It’s the ability to just be within yourself. I feel like I look as close to myself as I’ve ever looked.”

A group of people posing and smiling in front of a polka dot backdrop.
Mattie Chaya Kimberly “Kimi” Klauser (in hat second from right) with her bandmates. (Image: Courtesy of Penn Medicine News)

Klauser, a 37-year-old transgender woman who identifies as queer, has struggled with gender dysphoria and suicidal thoughts, and faced everything from casual ignorance to outright aggression from acquaintances, strangers, and even family, throughout her life. Receiving gender-affirming care at Penn Medicine, including facial feminization surgery with plastic surgeon Jordan Swanson, earlier this year, has helped her finally feel like herself.

Swanson is one of nearly 100 providers affiliated with the Penn Medicine Program for LGBTQ+ Health, led by Kevin Kline, who was appointed as the program’s inaugural medical director in 2023.

Gender-affirming care encompasses a broad set of services that also includes holistic primary care, hormone therapy, family planning, mental health care, physical therapy, gender-affirming surgeries, and more. Gender-affirming care at Penn Medicine is based on a person’s unique goals and does not need to include hormones or surgery, although many people may want one or both at some point in their lives.

One of Swanson’s surgical specialties is a form of major plastic surgery that can change the way certain facial features look to appear more feminine.

“Facial feminization surgery is becoming more common as part of the comprehensive options to help individuals achieve their personal goals for gender-affirming care,” Swanson says. “I’ve seen the incredible impact it can have on patients’ overall well-being.”

“Between hormone therapy and the surgery I’ve had so far, I can say there’s this rebirth … I’m starting to do the things that I forgot that I liked, because I was so busy hating myself,” Klauser says. “My quality of life is already 90% better. I’m still [recovering from major surgery], but now I get up in the morning and I feel pretty normal, and I go to bed at night, I feel pretty normal … I can see a life in which being trans can fall into more of the background [as a piece of my everyday life] now.”

Read more at Penn Medicine News.