Plume raises $24M in Series B to expand transgender care nationwide
Plume, a startup whose mission is to serve transgender patients, raised $24 million in a Series B funding. The Series B funding was led by Transformation Capital with additional funding from General Catalyst and Town Hall Ventures. According to the company the funding will be used to expand its services nationwide, make its services more affordable, and move towards accepting insurance.
40% of LGBTQ employees remained in the closet at work, while 75% experienced negative interactions related to their identity in the office according to a study by Boston Consulting Group.
Estimates state that 60-70 percent of transgender people are taking transition-related hormone pills.
It is reported that about 20-40 percent of transitioning transgender people have had gender-related reassignment surgery.
Almost 60 percent of trans people living in the inner city and urban areas rely on getting medications outside of the health system.
Plume was founded in 2019 by Doctor Jerrica Kirkley and Doctor Matthew Wetschler who wanted to expand offerings of transgender care, particularly to those living in non-urban areas. In addition, Plume’s goal is to expand access to transgender services like hormone replacement therapy, a treatment that is unfamiliar to many primary care doctors. As noted by Dr. Kirkley, this recent funding will put Plume “on track to reach [its[ goal of increasing access to high-quality, gender-affirming care to patients across the U.S. in both urban areas and coverage deserts.”
Trans members of the community require a type of modeled gender-affirmed care which includes unique necessities for each patient. The needs of trans individuals undergoing gender-affirming care go beyond the physical; it requires socio-emotional, legal, and medical. The social aspect is essentially changing from your assigned gender and how you express yourself; the legal being you are legally changing your assigned gender and name; the medical is the non-surgery and surgery-related choices you may or may not opt to undergo. Following its expansion to four additional states in March of this year, Plume claims to be the largest provider of telehealth transgender care in the country.
Plume’s focus is to provide primary health, specialty health, hormone therapy, consultation, and more. Co-founder Jerrica Kirkley wants to help be the change and the differentiator by providing a safe healthcare space for the trans community which is currently dramatically underserved (please see Repairing Disparities in LGBTQ+ Healthcare-The HSB Blog 6/28/22). Users pay a $99 monthly fee and receive telehealth visits, get connected with doctors that have experience treating and caring for transgender patients, prescription refills, lab testing, and monitoring, as well as changes to treatment plans if needed. Plume also provides support groups that offer confidentiality, medical notes for surgery, and doctors that respect your chosen name and pronouns. According to a Pew Research Center study, while less than 2% of the U.S. population identifies as transgender or non-binary, these numbers are significantly higher for those under the age of 30. For example, the study noted that over 5% of Americans between 18-29 identify themselves as transgender or nonbinary.
The Big Picture:
The founders of Plume are advocates for equal healthcare across the board and believe in providing personalized quality and easily accessible care to the trans community. The digital health team at Plume believes in an equal and affordable space for transgender patients to receive care as easily as the general patient population. This is extremely important as a 2021 study found that almost half of transgender individuals and over two-thirds of transgender people of color experienced discrimination or mistreatment by healthcare providers. Access to such care is extremely important, as there are numerous care deserts with almost 60 percent of trans people living in the inner city and urban areas relying on getting medications outside of the health system. In addition, with an estimated 60-70 percent of transgender people taking transition-related hormone pills, and approximately 20-40 percent of transitioning transgender people having had gender-related reassignment surgery this population is likely to grow over time. Receiving appropriate, informed, and culturally relevant care is especially important given the emotional and social pressure placed on patients.