Traveling for Surgery with The Gender Confirmation Center

As a world-renowned surgical practice, at the Gender Confirmation Center (GCC) we have plenty of experience working with patients from out-of-state and from other countries. We are committed to providing quality care to patients who have to travel for surgery since not all people in the transgender, nonbinary, and gender-expansive community are able to find a local, board-certified gender-affirming surgeon that can meet their needs and provide a discrimination-free experience. From your first contact to postoperative follow ups, our surgical and administrative teams will advocate for you and your needs at every step of the process.

First, we want to ensure that you have access to reasonably priced lodging while you’re in the Bay Area. In addition to affordable housing during your stay, it’s equally important to find trans and nonbinary sensitive environments to ensure the most comfortable and holistic recovery.

Below, you will find sections that outline the ideal travel timeline, how to book flights and arrange transportation, information about low-cost lodging accommodations and a pre-travel checklist. We have also included a bonus section on how to turn your Bay Area surgery visit into a vacation.

Traveling Timeline

Most pre-operative steps can be completed virtually, but all traveling patients will need to arrive in the San Francisco Bay Area 2-3 days in advance of their surgery.  Breast augmentation and chest reconstruction top surgery are generally outpatient procedures, which means you will need to have appropriate accommodations in place that same day. Gender confirming facial surgery patients usually stay in the surgery center overnight for one night after surgery, but will need accommodations for the rest of their visit. 

We ask that all top surgery (both chest reconstruction and breast augmentation) patients stay in town for 6 days after surgery so that we can effectively monitor their progress and address any side effects, complications, or concerns in person. The total amount of time that a patient is likely to spend in the Bay Area around the time of surgery is 8-9 days.

Facial surgery patients will need to stay in town 7-10 days after surgery before they will be cleared to travel home, meaning that patients should expect to be in San Francisco for 12-15 days total. Meanwhile, bottom surgery patients will generally have to stay in town longer than patients of other surgeries. Each bottom surgery patient will have different instructions on how long they will need to stay in the San Francisco Bay Area depending on the type of procedure(s) they undergo. You can discuss these details with your surgeon in a free, virtual consultation.

Lastly, some airlines have special guidelines regarding patients who have recently undergone surgery. Our surgeons routinely provide a TSA letter so that you can get through security without any trouble with regard to arm position or any other mobility limitations.

Flying into the Bay Area for Surgery 

Booking Flights

Many of our patients will search for flights on Southwest Airlines first if they have an airport nearby that they serve. They sometimes offer ‘getaway deals’, where flights are at a much lower rate than other commercial companies. Their flights won’t come up on Google search, so you’d need to visit their website independently to see what their rates are.

Many patients have found it helpful to use websites that compare the prices of different airlines. Examples of these websites include (but are not limited to) Kayak, Expedia, Travelocity, and Orbitz.


When you are looking for flights, be sure to look at Oakland International Airport (OAK) as well as San Francisco International Airport (SFO). The prices for airplane tickets vary and sometimes you can get a better deal at one airport over the other.  The Bay Area Rapid Transport (BART) train runs from both airports and can drop you off at designated BART stations. Wherever your lodging will be (see “Lodging Accommodations” section below for tips), ensuring that it is near a BART station can help you cut down on your transportation costs while you are in the area.


Wherever you are staying in the San Francisco Bay Area, you can utilize the BART either to get to our office or St. Francis Hospital by getting off at the ‘Montgomery BART station’ in Downtown Union Square. Prior to your arrival in the Bay Area, you can download a transportation, taxi ridesharing and/or app on your smartphone to check out bus routes and/or contract a car ride to help you reach your destination. However you choose to travel–by public transportation, taxi or through ridesharing, we recommend that patients travel with whomever is accompanying them after their surgery. Utilizing the BART and public transportation apps can cut down costs tremendously.

Lodging Accommodations

We understand that surgery is a big expenditure both emotionally and financially. Below is an extensive list of affordable options to choose from. We realize that patients may have specific accommodation preferences due to their identities and unique needs. Since there is a large transgender and gender diverse community in the Bay Area, there is a possibility that you will be able to find a place to stay in a shared community for free or discounted cost fairly close to The Gender Confirmation Center. The closer your accommodations are to a BART station, the cheaper your trip will be. We strongly recommend that patients find housing where travel time to and from our office is 45 minutes to one hour at most. Please refer to our “Transportation” section above to map out the cheapest and/or most convenient route from your lodging to our offices.

Community-Based Free/Low-Cost Options

Below are three Facebook groups you can use to find community-based accommodations. When using Facebook groups you will need to follow some simple steps. Your first step would be to request access to the group, which should be done about a few weeks before travel to ensure that you get accepted within enough time to make your accommodations. The second step would be to introduce yourself with your name, pronouns, and need. Example: “My name is Kai, I use he/him pronouns and I’m having top surgery in San Francisco on January 4th. I’m looking for a place to stay from January 2nd (when I fly in) until January 12th. If anyone is able to help out, please let me know. Thank you!” Make sure to check your post/request frequently and follow-up with any folks who might be open to hosting you. 

  • Bay Area Queer Exchange- The BAQE is a Facebook group that you will need to request access to prior to being able to use it. This forum is an incredibly diverse community, with folks of all different genders , sexual orientation, abilities, etc. This group isn’t used specifically for housing, but a lot of people in need have been able to get assistance for a variety of things.
  • Trans and Intersex Housing: SF Bay AreaThis is a Facebook group as well. It’s mostly used for trans, non-binary, and intersex folks to find permanent housing, but cross-posting is recommended here in addition to BAQE. 
  • QTPOC (Queer Trans Person of Color) Housing Bay Area CaliforniaThis group is a safe space specifically for queer and trans people of color..

Low Cost

  • TransHeartline is a trans-led and operated post-op care/lodging facility. The space is small, so look into this option first.
  • AirBnB: AirBnB can be a great option for you as they have shared housing options in addition to entire places. The cheapest options on AirBnB are in the East Bay, such as Oakland, not in San Francisco. Cities like Oakland, Emmeryville, Hayward, El Cerrito ad Richmond and just across the Bay Bridge from San Francisco, and you can travel to and from San Francisco easily via BART. We’re starting a project to find trans and non-binary folks who have their places listed on AirBnB. You can usually find shared spaces with a private room as low as $40, and around $70 at the higher end. Listings for the “entire place” (meaning you won’t have to share space with strangers) will run more expensive than private rooms in a shared house. For the cheaper ones, be sure to look at the location, as they may be far away and incur higher  transportation costs.
  • USA Hostels: This hostel is very near our office and the lowest rates start at around $34 a night. We can only recommend this service because of the location and price, but we have not had any feedback from our patients staying there.

Medium Cost, LGBTQ Friendly, All Located Within 3 Miles of GCC:

 Higher Cost, Also Within 1 Block of GCC:

  • Grand Hyatt San Francisco: Rates start at about $300 per night and the Grand Hyatt is conveniently located just a few blocks away from GCC. To learn more, visit their website at
  • Grand Marriott Union Square: Also just a few blocks down the street from our office, the Grand Marriott offers rooms that start under $300 per night. Learn more about booking on their website.
  • Beacon Grant Hotel, Union Square: Located within a block of GCC, the Beacon Grand Hotel offers all of our patients special booking rates. To find out more, you can contact our office or visit their website.

Staying outside San Francisco: 

Often, staying outside San Francisco is cheaper than finding lodging with city limits. We recommend that patients traveling from out of town view the BART map to find an option that is close to a BART station to minimize spending on transportation. Again, anywhere within an 45minute to one hour journey from our offices is a suitable option for lodging.

Options for staying outside San Francisco include but are not limited to:

  • San Bruno (south of San Francisco, the city nearest to the San Francisco Airport)
  • Millbrae (south of San Francisco)
  • Oakland (in the east bay)
  • Berkeley, Emmeryville or El Cerrito (in the East Bay)

A Pre-Check List for Out-of-Town Patients

Learn more about surgery timelines for breast augmentation, chest reconstruction top surgery, and gender confirming facial surgery. Here is a brief list of things you can do in advance of your procedure.

Ask questions – Our practice offers free, virtual consultations using a combination of phone calls or video conferencing and photographs. Before undertaking any additional planning, make sure that you feel comfortable with all of the details. We are happy to answer any questions you may have regarding your surgery.

Discuss all current medications – Certain prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, and supplements will hinder healing and should be discontinued prior to surgery. Our staff will work with your physician to determine which medications should be temporarily discontinued.

Complete all required preoperative evaluations, blood tests, and CT scans – Most patients do not need any lab tests before surgery. However, if you have medical conditions that warrant further evaluation, we will be in touch about which tests need to be done. In most cases, you should be able to complete these labs from a distance in your home city. Gender confirming facial surgery patients will need a CT scan of their face in their home city before surgery.

Book travel and accommodations – We have done our best to outline the best ways to book travel and accommodations for patients coming from outside the Bay Area for surgery. If you have further questions, see our contact information below.

Let’s Make A Vacation Out of It!

Our office is close to popular destinations if you’re traveling to San Francisco and would like to make a vacation out of this experience! Please see below for a list of popular destinations to check out while you’re here and how far they are from our office.  However, remember that after surgery you cannot walk faster than a slow stroll, and you can’t exert yourself with stairs or hill climbing for 3 weeks after surgery:

  • Golden Gate Bridge: 6 miles
  • The Painted Ladies: 2 miles
  • Alcatraz Island: 1.5 miles
  • Union Square: Our office is IN Union Square
  • Chinatown: .5 miles
  • Palace of Fine Arts: 3 miles
  • The Castro: 4 miles

Contact Our Office for Additional Travel Details

A lot of planning and preparation go into surgical procedures. If you have additional questions, or if you are feeling overwhelmed with all the necessary planning details, our staff would be happy to assist you. Please feel free to contact our office at (415) 780-1515 or at

Post-Operative Follow-Up

Once patients have returned to their hometowns from the San Francisco Bay Area, they might need to follow-up locally to receive care in the case of a complication. In these unlikely instances, it is necessary for you to call our office line or message your care team so we can advise you on how to move forward with your medical care and support communications with your local medical care providers. We will either be able to address your concerns ourselves, suggest you visit your Primary Care Provider (PCP), or recommend you go to a local emergency room. As a result, it is important to speak with your PCP before surgery to arrange correspondence between them and our office.