Pediatricians and Gender Dysphoric Youth

Parents frequently turn to pediatricians when their children begin displaying signs of gender nonconformity–but many pediatricians don’t know how to care for these kids.

Unhelpful primary care physicians can make healthcare seem inaccessible to patients who might benefit from additional care or resources. According to an article in The Atlantic and research presented at the 2018 Pediatric Academic Societies meeting, there is an increasing number of youth seeking medical care for gender dysphoria but very little pediatrician knowledge on the subject. About 86% of the providers in the latter study indicated that they needed more training to care for these individuals.

Ximena Lopez, an endocrinologist and the founder of the Gender Education and Care Interdisciplinary Support (GENECIS) program at Children’s Medical Center Dallas, told The Atlantic that most providers “want the best for their patients, but their lack of training makes them feel unprepared or not ready to talk with families.” LGBTQ competency training is an important way to educate providers on how to affirm their patients’ identities, which is a strong predictor for mental health outcomes. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has released statements in support of transgender youth and is working on releasing an official policy statement on caring for gender nonconforming youth.

Pediatricians can improve the care of their gender nonconforming and transgender patients by seeking out additional training on these subjects. While an official set of guidelines from the AAP will be beneficial, providers can work to educate themselves through resources from the Human Rights Campaign and other similar sources. This is important because, as Robert Garofalo, head of adolescent medicine at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, told The Atlantic, “this community doesn’t just deserve access to care; they deserve quality care.”

You can access the article in The Atlantic here: https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2018/06/pediatricians-gender-dysphoria-knowledge/563630/

You can access the report from the 2018 Pediatric Academic Societies meeting here: http://www.aappublications.org/news/2018/05/05/pastransgender050518

You can learn more about the LGBTQ competency training services offered by QSPACES here: https://www.qspaces.org/lgbtq-training/

You can access the HRC resource on providing care for transgender children here: https://assets2.hrc.org/files/documents/SupportingCaringforTransChildren.pdf