Human Rights Campaign has partnered with the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Osteopathic Pediatricians to release Supporting and Caring for Transgender Children. The new publication explains what it means for a child to be transgender, what experts know about helping transgender kids grow up healthy, and how community members can show support.
Doctors and mental health professionals who work with transgender children shared their expertise for the guide. As the publication explains, these clinicians play a crucial role in the lives of young transgender children: they help families and schools figure out the best ways to support and affirm a child’s evolving gender identity. For older transgender kids, they may also recommend medications that put puberty on hold, temporarily halting changes that can be distressing for the child.
The guide also explains the difference between gender-expansive and transgender children. Many kids stretch our expectations about how boys and girls act—HRC describes these children as “gender-expansive.” For a smaller group of children, the gender that everyone expects them to be feels completely wrong, and living as that gender can be agonizing; these children could be described as transgender.
A recent HRC-commissioned poll found that 35 percent of U.S. likely voters know someone who is transgender. Just 12 percent of that group knew a transgender child or teen, but that number is growing as more families decide to affirm their child’s gender identity. That crucial decision is backed by emerging research: one recent study found that transgender children whose families support them are as psychologically healthy as their non-transgender peers.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), founded in 1830, represents 64,000 pediatricians across the U.S. The American College of Osteopathic Pediatricians (ACOP) represents osteopathic physicians regarding policies and social issues focusing on the health and well-being of all children. Many osteopathic pediatricians work in rural areas, serving families who may live far from a hospital-based gender identity program.
Pediatricians and other healthcare providers are crucial advocates for transgender children. Earlier this year, AAP president Benard Dreyer penned a letter urging his colleagues to support their transgender patients, and a group of pediatric gender experts spoke out against stigmatizing laws and policies in a moving HRC video.
To learn more about HRC’s work to support transgender children and youth, visit http://www.hrc.org/trans-youth.