Being trans can present some hurdles, and we hope to take down as many as we can starting with healthcare.

WHEN I WAS A KID, I HAD WANTED TO BE: A Firefighter. SOMETHING I'M REALLY PROUD OF: Helping trans people feel valid. TWO TRUTHS ABOUT ME AND A LIE: I used to own a bike shop. I fly airplanes. I almost became a marine biologist. SOMEONE I ADMIRE: Janet Mock.

Dr. Jerrica Kirkley

Helping others to live authentic lives

CREATING GENDER-AFFIRMING TOOLS FOR THE DIGITAL AGE. Dr. Jerrica Kirkley is the Co-Founder and CMO of Plume, the first digital healthcare company dedicated to the transgender community. As a doctor and transwoman, her entrepreneurial efforts are both personal and professional. She explains, “We wanted to build something that was desired by the trans community and informed by the trans community—and that’s an easy thing to say, but far harder to accomplish. On one hand, this was based on personal experience, but on the other just because I am a trans person doesn’t mean I’m able to speak for everybody’s experience.”

Jerrica attended medical school with her best friend and ally Matthew Wetschler; together, they witnessed vulnerable LGBTQ and BIPOC patients who were not getting the quality of care they required. “With Plume, we are constantly seeking out diverse and talented individuals within both the medical and management side of the organization. This meant having different layers of identity, trans and otherwise. This also meant having people on board who were good listeners, but also understood data trends and access gaps and educational issues. We had to reflect the community before we could support the community.”

PUSHING NORMATIVE BOUNDARIES INTO THE POSSIBLE. From an early age, Jerrica saw her interests in healthcare and helping others as parallel efforts. She says, “Even during medical school, I was volunteering at an open door or free clinic and that experience was really powerful for me. I worked in HIV prevention and screening. I loved having that very direct relationship and providing care in a way that was a bit outside of the system. That always stayed with me.”

Jerrica also observed gaps and insufficiencies in medical training. Dr. Kirkley notes, “It’s not a standard part of one’s medical curriculum—gender affirming care and LGBTQ+ education isn’t always normalized within the dialogues and instructions, but I had fallen in love with it. I saw what closing that gap could look like and it excited me, it inspired my work, and I wanted it to inspire others.”

While Jerrica continued speaking at conferences, academic institutions, and maintaining a practice in Colorado, she worried her work “still wasn’t going far enough or reaching those who needed it the most,” and she set her mind to increasing her reach. “I kept asking myself, ‘how can I take this all further?’ because I wanted to identify a bigger picture, something that provided a more expansive, more personalized opportunity.”

In August of 2019, Dr. Kirkley and Dr. Wetschler decided to side-step the barriers and biases of traditional care by offering care virtually, and they founded Plume. Subsequently, Dr. Kirkley was thrust into the spotlight: “There were people who knew this was going to evolve. I was starting a digital gender healthcare company as a trans woman and physician. But again, this is what made it personal, in mostly good ways. In ways that counted differently. So I just held my head up high.”

Jerrica observes how her own struggles have eased the way for others: “My life has been filled with advantages and disadvantages. It’s evolved my character, but it’s also helped me gain a certain sense of resilience—opened new doors. Ultimately, it allowed me to start this company to help other people with their own disadvantages gain a few more advantages.”

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