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Parents want the best health care for their children. Parents of transgender children are no different. But seeking that care can be frustrating, time-consuming, involve traveling long distances and enduring long wait times to find a provider with transgender expertise.
[This article is written by Heidi Back, C.N.M.]
Mayo Clinic is committed to providing an inclusive, welcoming health care environment for LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex) patients and their families. Timely care and empathetic support can be crucial to the overall health and well-being of transgender youth. The constant worry and fear of being harassed and rejected, being called the wrong name or using the bathroom wears on the mental health of trans kids.
Multiple studies indicate that among transgender nonbinary youth in the U.S., over 50% have seriously considered suicide, which is significantly higher than the 3% to 5% of the general population. It's been found that if trans kids start on the appropriate gender-affirming hormone, this figure drops considerably.
Because of the daily stressors of being trans, children may be ready and eager to see a provider — sometimes before their parents. Their current care providers may be a good place to start.
What parents should look for is a provider who's empathetic, respectful of their children's needs, makes them feel safe and will be a partner in their health care. For help finding a health care provider with transgender expertise, visit the World Professional Association for Transgender Health website.
Parents need to advocate for their transgender children's health care to support them and help them become the true people they are.
Remember that their while their brain ― not their parts ― determines their gender, trans children still needs health care based on their anatomy, regardless of their gender identity or expression. This includes age-appropriate screenings and vaccinations.
Heidi Back is a nurse-midwife with the Birthing Center and OB-GYN, Mayo Clinic Health System, Eau Claire, WI. She serves on a committee to establish an LGBTQI clinic in Eau Claire.
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