Logan Harris, a 22-year-old stable hand in Kentucky, never felt fully connected to his assigned sex. Assigned female at birth, he felt trapped in his own body from a young age and struggled with being treated like a girl by everyone around him.
It was not until he was 16 years old that Logan learned about gender dysphoria—a condition that causes a person great distress due to feeling as though their physical body, or sex, does not match their gender identity. Upon recognizing this condition in his own life, he began to familiarize himself with hormone therapy and gender-affirming surgery, a set of procedures that could enable him to match his physical body to his gender identity.
“I remember seeing a video of a transgender celebrity and thinking, ‘Oh, you don’t have to be stuck with the body you’re born in,’” he says. “Once I realized that, I started educating myself on the things that I could do about it.”
After four years of research, Logan felt ready to pursue gender-affirming surgery. In particular, Logan was most interested in a bilateral mastectomy and nipple graft procedure, in which the breasts are removed through a double incision and the nipple areola complex is re-sized and placed on the chest it in a more masculine position.
My biggest fear was not being able to gauge what my results might look like until it was over, but I put a lot of trust in Dr. Austen and his team.
Patient, Gender-Affirming Surgery
However, the road to achieving it was anything but smooth. In 2019, he scheduled his surgery with a separate medical institution two times, both of which were cancelled without notice nor reason. Shortly after, the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily shut down the option for elective surgeries at all hospitals in the United States.
Logan felt defeated as he struggled to find a place and care team that was a good fit for his goals and needs.
The Importance of a Connected, Compassionate Care Team
Logan learned about the Transgender Surgical Program at Massachusetts General Hospital through his primary care provider. Shortly after, he reached out to Jay Austen, MD, chief of the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, to discuss his options for surgery.
Logan’s frustration from his previous experiences quickly diminished once he began his journey at Mass General. The care team, he says, provided him with clear communication and information before, during and after the procedure, which eased his concerns.
“On the day of surgery, they asked me what I wanted them to try to do with my scar placement. I thought that was such a great approach, as opposed to them just doing whatever they wanted to do,” Logan says. “My biggest fear was not being able to gauge what my results might look like until it was over, but I put a lot of trust in Dr. Austen and his team.”
Following his surgery, Logan was able to leave the hospital and return home on the same day. Though his pain after surgery was manageable, Logan did have to return to the hospital the following week, as a small collection of blood formed at the surgical site. The Mass General team, he says, treated it quickly and efficiently. He did not experience any additional complications.
Comfortable in His Own Skin
Now a year later, Logan is elated about the positive impact that gender-affirming surgery had on his life.
“My life is uninhibited,” Logan says. “I can live my life the way I should have been able to from the start.” In particular, Logan recalls a special moment during a recent vacation with his dad when he was able to be shirtless on a boat ride alongside other men, for the first time.
In regard to his experience at Mass General, Logan says, “The care team really seems to not only know what they’re doing but also care about each patient. They take the time to invest in your individual care.”