100 years of transgender rights
100 years of transgender rightsIBTimes UK

More than 3,200 gender confirmation surgeries were carried out in the United States last year, marking a rise of 20% from 2015.

The surgeries can include anything from facial and body contouring to gender reassignment surgeries, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, who released the data.

This is the first time figures have been released on transgender-related surgeries.

"There is no one-size-fits-all approach to gender confirmation," said Loren Schechter, a board-certified plastic surgeon based in Chicago.

"There's a wide spectrum of surgeries that someone may choose to treat gender dysphoria, which is a disconnect between how an individual feels and what that person's anatomic characteristics are."

Access to gender confirmation procedures has improved vastly in recent years.

"In the past several years, the number of transgender patients I've seen has grown exponentially," Schechter said.

"Access to care has allowed more people to explore their options, and more doctors understand the needs of transgender patients."

Members of the society undergo intense training to help these patients address the incongruity between their bodies and the gender they know themselves to be.

Schechter said surgical therapy is just one component of the overall care of the individual.

"It takes a team of experts across different disciplines working together to provide comprehensive care. I often partner with doctors who may prescribe treatments such as hormone therapy and mental health professionals who help patients through their transitions," Schechter said.

Gearah Goldstein, an advocate for transgender youth, worked with Schechter throughout her transition. Goldstein knew from an early age that her gender did not align with her body, but says she is now able to live her life as the person she has always been.

"For transgender people, like myself, surgical options are a corrective treatment, not cosmetic," she said.

"The types of surgeries someone has is very personal and private, and you wouldn't even know someone had surgery if you saw them walking down the street. It's not about how we're perceived by the public, but how we perceive ourselves."

Goldstein says gender confirmation, whatever that means for the individual, can be truly life-changing.

"It has been a lifelong journey for me. Growing up, there wasn't even a word for transgender. There were no role models or anyone to tell me that I could do something about this feeling of being disconnected from the body I was born with," said Goldstein.

"The reality that I lived through has allowed me to assure the next generation that there is nothing abnormal about what they're feeling."