Taking a holistic approach to gender-affirming care

GraceMed Mississauga is committed to supporting its patients’ journeys in a safe and inclusive space

This content was created by Xtra’s branded content team alongside GraceMed, separate from Xtra’s editorial staff.

When it comes to measuring satisfaction and understanding the transformational impact of gender-affirming care on a person’s life, Dr. Kathleen Armstrong relies on word of mouth. 

“People speak for themselves, and that is the biggest compliment that we get,” said the award-winning plastic reconstructive and aesthetic surgeon at GraceMed Mississauga. “We see it with how they refer us to their friends and other people—even their family members.”

Originally founded in the late 1980s as the McLean Clinic, GraceMed Mississauga has a longstanding reputation within the transgender community for its expertise and excellence in providing top surgery and gender-affirming care to LGBTQ2S+ patients.

Credit: GraceMed

Today, GraceMed Mississauga also provides a number of non-surgical aesthetic services geared to the transgender patient including facial masculinization and feminization using Botox and facial fillers; laser hair removal, acne treatments, scar therapies and liposuction contouring for masculinization and feminization.

As one of the foremost providers of gender-affirming care in Ontario, GraceMed Mississauga is known for its holistic approach to patient care. Its staff members are committed to supporting patients by respecting boundaries and creating a safe, non-judgemental, welcoming, and inclusive space.

“Some of our patients have had previous experiences where they’ve had trouble finding providers who understand gender-affirming care, and a difficult path before reaching our clinic,” said Dr. Armstrong.

Credit: GraceMed/Torin Ong

“It’s understandable that they may have some hesitation about whether our clinic will be able to meet their needs or understand their personal experiences, so that is something we work toward with them. Our highly-skilled team includes members of the trans community and understands gender-affirming care and what it entails.”

Part of the way it achieves this, said Dr. Armstrong, is through the commitment of GraceMed Mississauga’s doctors, nurses and staff who are continually upgrading their professional skills. An important part of this includes sensitivity training and learning opportunities outside the clinic to better understand and tailor care for transgender and gender-diverse patients.

Dr. Armstrong, for example, is a member of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health and works in transgender and gender diversity research, including helping to develop a scale to measure patient satisfaction before and after gender-affirming procedures.

“We all make a collective effort to be respectful to all our patients at the clinic, regardless of their gender. The fact that we do this every day, means that approach is really ingrained in our work culture.”

Torin Ong, who identifies as non-binary and trans masculine, first heard of GraceMed Mississauga through their friends in the community. The 29-year-old had their top surgery at GraceMed in 2023 and then returned to have dermal filler to strengthen their jawline to make it look more masculine. 

Credit: GraceMed/Torin Ong

“There is something about the folks at GraceMed with respect to the sensitive, inclusive care they provide,” said Torin. “For example, I have been to the dental office, and they ask for my pronouns, and will put them in my file, but they are not great at using them when addressing me. Whereas at GraceMed, which is such a vital part of our community and serves our community, they get it. You can tell they really care about our community simply in the execution of pronouns – the staff understands the importance of getting it right and the impact it has on patients like me.”

For its policies, training efforts and commitment to serving the transgender community, GraceMed Mississauga has achieved Rainbow Accreditation from Canada’s 2SLGBTQI+ Chamber of Commerce. It means the clinic has met a stringent set of standards to ensure its patients feel safe, welcomed, and accepted.

“We just put a lot of thought into making people feel comfortable,” said Dr. Armstrong, adding it’s that satisfaction with the level of respect they received at GraceMed Mississauga that leads its patients to recommend the clinic to others. 

“It is quite rewarding to think that you are having a positive influence on someone’s life,” she adds. “Whether we’re helping people with top surgery or providing other aesthetic options to help someone along their journey, our work is very quality of life focused. It has a significant impact on how people exist within the world.”

To learn more about the gender-affirming care offered by GraceMed Mississauga, or to book a consultation, visit www.topsurgery.ca