Drexel University’s College of Medicine has announced a first-of-its-kind Transgender Fellowship Training Program at their teaching hospital, Hahnemann University Hospital. The groundbreaking new program is a physician education program focused on treating transgender patients and gender affirmation surgeries.

According to a publication from the Philadelphia-based paper, The Inquirer, Hahnemann initiated the Transgender Surgical Program last year. The program, under the leadership of cosmetic surgeon Kathy L. Rumer, has already performed more than 400 sex reassignment surgeries, according to officials from Hahnemann.

“These are complex procedures, so we want to ensure patients have access to compassionate, capable surgeons who can help make their transitions successful,” Rumer stated.

“Hahnemann University Hospital prides itself on being a pioneer in medical research and advancement,” Hahnemann CEO Michael P. Halter explained. “Creating a Transgender Fellowship Training Program is the next chapter in continuing a legacy of excellence.”

Prior to taking part in the program, candidates for the transgender fellowship will need to practice residency in either plastic or urological surgery.

Jess Ting, director of surgery as well as surgical fellowship director for the Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery at Mount Sinai in New York, spoke to the supposed historical ignorance associated with the program’s concept.

“This specialty has been the illegitimate child of American medicine for many decades,” Ting expressed. “It existed on the fringes of ‘accepted medicine,’ and for many years no respectable hospital would allow transgender surgery to be done on its premises."

“The barriers, like social acceptance of being transgender, and the legitimacy of having gender-conforming surgery has all changed in recent years,” Ting added.

The demand for gender affirmation surgeries has rapidly increased in the past few years. This year alone, transgender surgeries have increased by nearly 20 percent.

Isaiah Denby is a college freshman from Tampa Bay, Florida studying economics and political science.