NYU Langone Health Surgeons Honored For Their Commitment & Contribution To LGBTQ+ Community


New York, NY – NYU Langone Health plastic surgeon Rachel Bluebond-Langner, MD, and reconstructive urologist Lee Zhao, MD, have been  be honored at Destination Tomorrow’s first annual gala, “Dare To Dream,” held at the Bronx Museum.

“Dr. Bluebond-Langner and Dr. Zhao are committed to ensuring their patients receive the very best holistic care, helping to greatly enhance their patients’ overall physical and emotional health and well-being,” says Joan Kelly, chief patient experience officer at NYU Langone Health, who is also the administrator for the health system’s growing multidisciplinary transgender program. “We are extremely proud of them for receiving this important recognition, and for the high quality of care their entire team provides every day.”

NYU Langone Health Reconstructive Urologist Lee Zhao, MD, and Plastic Surgeon Rachel Bluebond-Langner, MD, together perform gender-affirming surgery, utilizing NYU Langone’s robotic surgical platform for “bottom surgery,” which allows for a great degree of safety and precision. Photo credit: Sasha Nialla for NYU Langone Health (PRNewsfoto/NYU Langone Health)

Dr. Bluebond-Langner, the Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Associate Professor of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery at NYU Langone, and Dr. Zhao assistant professor of urology and co-director of NYU Langone’s Transgender Reconstructive Surgery Program at NYU Langone, are both highly admired and respected by colleagues and patients alike for superior surgical outcomes as well as for providing compassionate care. They perform gender-affirming surgery on individuals of diverse ages and backgrounds.

“Dr. Bluebond-Langner and Dr. Zhao have directly impacted the lives of many within the transgender community,” says Sean Coleman, executive director of Destination Tomorrow, a non-profit grassroots agency located in the South Bronx that provides essential programs and services to the LGBTQ+ community, with a focus on economic empowerment and health and wellness.

“We have chosen to honor them this year for their dedication to providing affirming surgeries in a culturally sensitive and clinically competent way, and for unapologetically staying in the fight alongside members of the transgender community,” adds Coleman.

NYU Langone’s transgender surgery program is the only program of its kind in the country that utilizes robotic surgery for “bottom” surgery, which allows these procedures to be performed with a greater degree of safety and precision. NYU Langone has been recognized as a leader in LGBTQ+ healthcare equality by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation in the Healthcare Equality Index (HEI) Report for the past five years, and continues to enhance access to care for the LGBTQ+ community.

About NYU Langone Health: 

NYU Langone Health is a world-class, patient-centered, integrated academic medical center, known for its excellence in clinical care, research, and education. It comprises more than 200 locations throughout the New York area, including five inpatient locationsa children’s hospitalthree emergency rooms and a level 1 trauma center.  Also part of NYU Langone Health is the Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center, a National Cancer Institute–designated cancer center, and NYU School of Medicine, which since 1841 has trained thousands of physicians and scientists who have helped to shape the course of medical history. For more information, go to nyulangone.org, and interact with us on FacebookTwitterYouTube, and Instagram.

About Destination Tomorrow: 

Destination Tomorrow is a trans-founded and trans-led non-profit organization located in the South Bronx, NYC. Its mission is to provide a life-affirming community center where our members can access and participate in culturally competent services that improve health, provide social support, and educational and employment outcomes for youth, adults and the elderly. The lived experiences and learned knowledge at Destination Tomorrow help to engage its clients through education, advocacy, visibility and participation from LGBT identified members and community allies.


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  1. Doctor Bluebond-Langner, herself, appeals mostly to binary transgender individuals more than anyone. She turned me away almost entirely on the basis of not being a strict trans man; I am intersex and present more androgynous. She refused to discuss anything regarding her method of phalloplasty even for future reference, insisting “we [had] nothing to talk about” until I “transitioned more,” claiming she followed WPATH standards strictly. When I read to her, then asked her to read, the WPATH guidance on genital surgery stating FtM transgender individuals do not require HRT prior to genital surgery if medical or personal reasons prevent them, she refused to view the webpage I offered to her and grew cross with me. Due to being intersex and only having one underperforming ovary and a cis male hormonal balance naturally, there’s no benefits to HRT. She was completely disinterested in my transition timeline, how to feel most comfortable in my body – which I have to live with forever and she does not, and the validity of my concerns.
    She wouldn’t tell me her methods, examine a potential doner site, give me any information on hair removal, nor show me any examples of her work at all. My BMI is 33 – due to my hereditary wide bone structure, she flat out refused to believe that even after weighing and measuring me, insisting I had to lose “at least thirty pounds” before my BMI was at 32, her maximum weight to operate on. Overall she felt dismissive, aloof, and frustrated with the extent of my knowledge. I’ve been researching phalloplasty for eight years and intend to attend school so as to perform the surgery, myself, and learn as many methods as possible for my potential patients – another factor she dismissed.

    Which she’s an amazing contributor and support to the binary trans community, myself and other non/less binary identifying patients have felt put out and undermined. I’d consider her binary trans friendly, but not LGBTQIA+ friendly.

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