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American Academy of Pediatrics calls for new healthcare model for transgender kids

American Academy of Pediatrics calls for new healthcare model for transgender kids

British journalist Louis Theroux (right) met with transgender children and their families for a 2015 documentary (Photo: Tumblr)

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) wants to tackle the disproportionate health risks faced by transgender young people with a new policy statement.

AAP called for a ‘gender-affirmative care model’ this week. The new policy calls on healthcare professionals, parents, and others to respect children and youth’s choice of gender.

Significantly, 56 percent of transgender youth said they had suicidal thoughts. What’s more, 31 percent reported a previous suicide attempt, according to AAP.

AAP said transgender youth experience disproportionately high rates of homelessness, physical violence (at home and in the community), substance abuse, and high-risk sexual behaviors.

Significantly, it notes that stigma is often a root cause for trans youth with mental health disorders. Transgender identity should not be seen as causing mental health problems.

AAP calls on healthcare providers to: ‘destigmatize gender variance, promote the child’s self-worth, facilitate access to care, educate families’.

It also calls on providers to ‘advocate for safer community spaces where children are free to develop and explore their gender’.

Gender-affirmative care

AAP have said the new guidelines are not a major policy change. They do, however, bring AAP advice in line with current best practices.

Current research suggests valuing a child for who they are, rather than focusing on who they will become, fosters resilience.

What’s more, AAP rejected so-called ‘conversion therapies’ that may try to affect a child’s gender identity

AAP advises that:

  • Transgender identities and diverse gender expressions are not a mental disorder.
  • Variations in gender identity and expression are normal aspects of being a human. Binary definitionsof gender (male and female) may not reflect emerging gender identities.
  • Biology, development, socialization, and culture all inform gender.
  • If a transgender person is experiencing mental health issues, it most often stems from stigma and negative experiences. It is not often something intrinsic to the child.