There has been a concentrated uptick in legislation focused on banning gender-affirming healthcare for youth. Gender health professionals share the most common misconceptions people have about transgender healthcare and what affirming care actually looks like.
Gender dysphoria, a common diagnosis for transgender and gender nonconforming children, is meant to describe the distress someone experiences when their body or gender doesn’t align with their assigned sex at birth, which children are able to communicate as early as 4 years old.
“I think that there’s often this misconception, how could kids know their gender?” says Samantha Busa, PsyD, child and adolescent psychologist and clinical director of the Gender and Sexuality Service at the Child Study Center and a member of the Transgender Youth Health Program at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone. “Well each of us, if you’re a cisgender person, you know knew your gender when you were 2 or 3 years old, and it wasn’t questioned.”
Jason A. Klein, MD, a pediatric endocrinologist and medical director of the Transgender Youth Health Program, says that data overwhelmingly show that children who are allowed to comfortably express their gender identity have better outcomes in life. Therefore, a large part of their doctors’ work is to dispel myths that parents with transgender children might come into a clinic with.
“It’s important to recognize that there is absolutely no surgical intervention that is being done for young individuals who are transgender or nonbinary. The only scissors that are being taken to children is to cut their hair,” says Dr. Klein. “Doctors play a huge role in allowing a family to air their stress in order to get to the point where they can have their intentions of being a good, supportive, wonderful family come to fruition. A lot of families just want to do what’s best for their kids.”
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