By Kim Glovas

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Gender affirming surgery has been around for awhile, but the adequate training leading up to it has been lacking. Now, Hahnemann University Hospital is launching a fellowship training program to fill that need.

Hahnemann’s Transgender Fellowship Training Program will begin in July. Applicants are being screened now. Doctor Kathy Rumer, the new director of the Transgender Fellowship Training Program, has been doing transgender surgeries for ten years, but she just joined Hahnemann in the last year.

“Historically, the medical community did not embrace the transgender community,” she said, “and it was almost impossible to get privileges to perform these surgeries at hospitals.”

And Dr. Rumer says in the past surgeons had little training before doing the complex operations.

“Instead of being adequately trained, they were going to a weekend training course or going to another facility that might be doing the procedures, and seeing a couple procedures and then performing the procedures themselves,” she explained.

But times are changing, and Rumer says she has performed more than 400 gender affirmation surgeries at Hahnemann in the last year. She says there is a growing need for this complex, specialty surgery.

She says the new one-year program will provide surgical and psychiatric training as well as pre and post operative care. It’s the first of it’s kind in the region, and only the second in the nation.

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