Specialists Help Youth Who Struggle with Gender Identity

Adolescents who are transgender have a new place to turn for multidisciplinary care. The Division of Adolescent Medicine at Golisano Children’s Hospital has formed a team of specialists to help young people through the process of considering a different gender identity.

The team, which currently consists of adolescent medicine specialists and pediatric endocrinologists, and will eventually encompass mental health professionals and social workers, can provide the social, emotional and medical care young people need as they move through adolescence – and transition to life as a new gender, if they choose.

“We understand community pediatricians and family medicine practitioners may need some assistance caring for transgender youth, and we have a wonderful group of specialists who are interested in helping these young people,” said Mandy Coles, M.D., M.P.H., an adolescent medicine specialist who is spearheading the effort. “Because of our training, we can work to support youth and their families through a potentially challenging transition process, while at the same time providing evidence-based medical care. These services are available for all youth up to 26 years old who are struggling with gender identity.”

The World Professional Association for Transgender Health estimates the prevalence of transgender youth to be as high as 1 in 2,500. A survey released by the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce last fall showed that almost half of transgender people attempt suicide, and a large percentage don’t receive proper medical care due to perceived barriers. Coles and her team hope to work with the community’s physicians to ensure transgender adolescents and young adults get the mental health and medical support they need.

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Arianna Joseph-Parris
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