LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- A Las Vegas plastic surgeon has made it his mission to expand care for transgender patients.
That includes everything from gender surgeries to counseling. There are not enough providers in the valley specializing in this sort of care, which leaves some patients waiting for years.
One transgender man said it's not simply about physical looks. Instead, he just wants other people to see what he has seen in himself his entire life.
"I have identified as male as early as 3 years old," Deejay Labayan-Arvelo said. His birth certificate read female. Labayan-Arvelo knew that wasn't right.
"As sure as you know if you’re left-handed or right-handed, I was sure in who I was," he said.
At age 21, Labayan-Arvelo started taking hormones. The testosterone changed his voice and his facial hair.
"It's different when you’re a trans person because you always feel out of place," he said.
In 2012, Labayan-Arvelo met Jonah. A few years later, they got pregnant.
"I incubated her, she was a breached baby so I had to have a C-section," Labayan-Arvelo said. "It was the most masculine thing I’ve ever done."
Their daughter Anuhea was born in 2015.
"Maybe it was some sort of a hidden gift for me to be a trans person so that I can be a gay person to bring this beautiful person into the world," Labayan-Arvelo said. "She knows no color, she knows no sex, no gender, no nothing."
But Labayan-Arvelo knows not everyone has the same outlook.
"It is direly important for us to be able to walk through a room and not have anybody look at us twice," he said.
So Labayan-Arvelo got a full hysterectomy.
"And this past January is when I got my chest done," he said.
Dr. John Brosious is a plastic surgeon and teaches at the UNLV School of Medicine.
"It opened my eyes and blew me away that people were still treating transgender patients as second rate citizens," Dr. Brosious said.
That's when he noticed the lack of resources in Las Vegas for transgender people.
"There are very few providers that can provide not only the surgical care for them, but also the hormonal care, the psychiatric care, the counseling that they need," Dr. Brosious said.
He estimates he performs 15 gender surgeries a month and the list keeps growing.
"These patients have been waiting for their surgeries for almost their whole lives," Dr. Brosious said. "Ultimately one day we’d like to offer the full spectrum: surgery, therapy under one roof one day."
"A lot of us do a lot of research for many, many, many years," Labayan-Arvelo said.
Dr. Brosious is creating a network of healthcare providers in the valley who have the same passion as him.
"My goal is to offer genital surgeries, hopefully within the next year," he said.
This is the sort of care Labayan-Arvelo said he could only dream of years ago.
"He wants to do all of these amazing things in the transgender community that geographically, no one is really doing in this region," he said.
Labayan-Arvelo is Mr. Las Vegas Pride 2019, the first transgender man to hold the title.
While he is secure in his identity and happy with who is on the inside, he knows the feeling many transgender people face, while making the transgender.
"I can’t even explain to you the confidence I have just being able to walk through a place and not having people [look] because that is a look and a feeling that never goes away," he said.
Labayan-Arvelo said that confidence is something he sought for decades and it wouldn't be possible without providers like Dr. Brosious.
"These are the happiest patients that I’ve ever encountered in my entire life," Dr. Brosious said. "So life hasn’t been kind to them transgender people, and the more I work with them, the more I realize that and it really has created a passion for me."
Dr. Brosious hired a new plastic surgeon, urologist and ENT doctors. Some roadblocks he's faced include making sure all of this care is covered by insurances and hospitals.