Minn. joins other states in offering special clinic for transgender youth

Children's Hospital in St. Paul. (Nick Ferraro / Pioneer Press)

Childhood and adolescence are times of shifting feelings and moods, and more than a little confusion about sexuality, yet health care providers are rushing to medically accommodate U.S. teens who don’t see themselves fitting into what seem to be society’s traditional roles for males and females.  

A recent study on transgender youth found more U.S. teens are identifying as transgender or “gender nonconforming.” Health care providers are taking notice by opening clinics that offer specialized care for these youths and even steer them toward chemically altering their bodies.

Such a facility recently opened in Minneapolis, Public News Service reports. Run by the Children’s Minnesota health system, the program is under the medical direction of Dr. Angela Goepferd. She said young people in this group face health disparities, and their parents often lack resources when looking for guidance.

“Families often don’t know where to go or who to turn to with those questions,” Goepferd said. “And even when they do find themselves in their pediatrician or family-practice doctor’s office, there’s often still questions.”

Goepferd said young people might need to talk to a consultant about how they want to identify, or they might seek gender-affirming hormone treatment. She said finding the right medical expert could take months.

Children’s Minnesota said its new clinic is one of only about a dozen of its kind in the nation. Goepferd said the lack of access has a lot to do with training.

“When I went to medical school, which was close to 20 years ago now, there was no training for how to take care of transgender and gender-diverse kids,” she said. “And so, I think even though there may be a positive intent to want to provide more information or care for families, I think a lot of people don’t have the information that they would need to do that.”

The study on transgender youth was conducted by the University of Minnesota. It looked at students in 9th and 11th grades and found nearly 3 percent thought they were transgender or “gender nonconforming.” The report’s authors said that figure is higher than estimates from any previous research.


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