New Jersey Man is A Role Model for Gender-Affirming Care   

New Jersey Man is A Role Model for Gender-Affirming Care

Micky Petrillo, 60, looks at the camera with his arms folded in front of him.

For most of his life, Fort Leeb resident Micky Petrillo, 60, was known as Michele. While he was growing up, there was little understanding of how one’s gender assigned at birth could be misaligned with what a person felt their true gender identity was. “I was called a tomboy,” says Micky. “I played sports with boys and didn’t think too much about it.”

In fact, it wasn’t until a horrible incident at an airport overseas in 2023 that Micky realized he was meant to express his gender as male. “After I was assaulted, I was very upset. I couldn’t leave my house,” Micky recalls. “I needed to do something, so I wore a binder on my breasts. I thought, ‘Oh my God, this feels great.” After consulting with his longtime therapist, Micky decided transitioning to a male identity would be the best thing for him.

Ready for Gender-Affirming Surgery

That brought Micky to JFK University Medical Center and the Center for Advanced Care. Micky approached plastic surgeon Alyssa Golas, M.D., who has been working with transgender patients, first at her practice in New York and then after relocating to the surgical practice group in Edison. Performing gender-affirming surgery “started with one patient who came in and then it just grew naturally over time,” she recalls. “I really enjoy doing the surgery because I like being able to make a positive difference in people’s lives.”

“Dr. Golas was amazing,” says Micky. “She met with me to make sure this was something I wanted and didn’t take lightly. She let me know that recovery was going to be painful and so on, and ultimately, she said, ‘I think you’re a good candidate.’” Once the plan was initiated in October, Micky began hormone therapy, and a surgery date was set for December.

For Micky, it wasn’t just the superb medical care he received, but it was also the supportive and caring environment provided in the office and among the staff. “They were very respectful, using the correct pronouns and never made a mistake with me all the times I've been there and at the hospital,” Micky says. “They were friendly and made me feel comfortable and respected.”

Dr. Golas admires her colleagues and is looking forward to expanding services. “I work very closely with nurse Jackie Baras who had set up a gender-affirming care program at a different hospital,” reports Dr. Golas. “She and I are working together now to set up a similar program at JFK and for the Hackensack network. I also collaborate with doctors in the network who provide hormone care for transgender patients. And we're looking to establish a collaboration with behavioral health providers in the future.”

The Man He Was Meant to Be

“Typically, the patients who come in for this type of care are younger, usually in their 20s and 30s,” says Dr. Golas. “Micky is unique in that he came in having lived his adult life and decided this was what he needed at age 60. It just goes to show that it's never too late to seek care to be your authentic self. I think he's a really good role model.”

After Micky had sufficiently recovered from surgery, it was time to celebrate his new life and thank his friends for all the support they provided while he was recuperating. “One thing about me is that I'm obsessed with Cher. I traveled all over the world, and I’ve been to every one of her concerts. So, I found a Cher impersonator and had her sing at my ‘Man I Was Meant to Be’ party for 50 of my friends—and Dr. Golas.”

Midway through the festivities, the DJ cued up the song “Oh, Micky,” and Micky made his debut with his new clothes and his new self. “It was like five or 10 minutes’ worth of clapping; it was amazing,” says Micky. “I told everyone, ‘Thank Grandma—because I sold the jewelry I inherited from her to pay for this!’”

Next Steps & Resources

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.


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