Pediatrics group issues policy supporting trans youth

As controversy roils the political waters over transgender rights, the medical association that deals with children’s health has issued a trans positive policy supporting transgender kids. The American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) issued the policy on Monday, as well as publishing it in their journal Pediatrics.

Titled “Ensuring comprehensive care and support for transgender and gender-diverse children and adolescents”, the document opens with this: “As a traditionally underserved population that faces numerous health disparities, youth who identify as transgender and gender diverse (TGD) and their families are increasingly presenting to pediatric providers for education, care, and referrals. The need for more formal training, standardized treatment, and research on safety and medical outcomes often leaves providers feeling ill equipped to support and care for patients that identify as TGD and families.”

The policy state reviews relevant concepts and challenges and positive development of youth that identify as transgender or gender-diverse.

It also call for an elimination of discrimination and stigma. Saying that LGBTQ youth face discrimination because of inequitable laws and policies, societal discrimination and a lack of access to quality health care including mental health care, it notes that those challenges are often more intense for youth who do not conform to social expectations and norms regarding gender.

The study estimates that there are at least 150,000 youth ages 13 to 17 who identify as transgender.

The policy discusses multiple issues affecting trans youth.

The document says there is no evidence that the risk for mental illness is inherently attributable to a person’s gender identity. But it states that both adolescents and adults who identify as trans have high rates of depression, anxiety, eating disorders, self-harm and suicide.

“Youth who identify as TGD often confront stigma and discrimination, which contribute to feelings of rejection and isolation that can adversely affect physical and emotional well-being. For example, many youth believe that they must hide their gender identity and expression to avoid bullying, harassment, or victimization,” the policy says.

It advocates for a “Gender-Affirmative Care Model (GACM), creating a supportive environment that would include the following messages:

  • transgender identities and diverse gender expressions do not constitute a mental disorder;
  • variations in gender identity and expression are normal aspects of human diversity, and binary definitions of gender do not always reflect emerging gender identities;
  • gender identity evolves as an interplay of biology, development, socialization, and culture; and
  • if a mental health issue exists, it most often stems from stigma and negative experiences rather than being intrinsic to the child.

Other subjects include developmental considerations, medical management, health disparities and family acceptance. Also covered are safe schools and communities and education for the medical community.

It concludes by offering several affirming recommendations for medical care of transgender youth. You can read the policy online here.

Copyright The Gayly – September 17, 2018 @ 3:55 p.m. CDT.