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School of Medicine Student on Finding Love as a Trans Woman

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Daniella McDonald is a go-getter. A San Diego native, she stayed local for college, receiving degrees in human biology and theatre followed by a master’s in biology, all earned at UC San Diego. Now, as an eighth-year MD/PhD student at the School of Medicine, she spends long days studying and doing research on engineering stem-cell derived tumors to study human development.

Her career interests lie in psychiatry with a focus on addiction psychiatry, she says, as well as psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy and transgender mental health and relationships. She recently celebrated matching to the residency program at UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. There she will pursue her chosen specialty and hopes to one day create a multi-specialty transgender wellness center.  Given her passion and drive, it’s no surprise that she’s been recognized with numerous awards over the years, including “Outstanding Graduate Student Leader” and the Chancellor’s Dissertation Medal in Biology.

Daniella McDonald

Like most people her age, McDonald has also spent a lot of time talking with friends about relationships and using dating apps. But, as a transgender woman, the experience for her was much different. In fact, she was inspired to co-found and lead a new dating app that supports transgender love called Jeweled, which she hopes to launch in the next couple of years.

In an interview with BBC News, McDonald shares insights about her path to meeting her fiancé, Josh. As we approach Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31, she hopes her story will help promote more understanding of gender diversity.

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