Management of the Transgender Adolescent


Transgender individuals are people whose self-identification as male, female, both, or neither (gender identity) does not match their assigned gender (identification by others as male or female based on natal sex). The phenomenon of transgender is uncommon, but as more media attention is directed toward the subject, more adolescents and young adults are "coming out" at an earlier age. Transgender adolescents are an underserved and poorly researched population that has very specific medical and mental health needs. Primary care physicians are in a unique and powerful position to promote health and positive outcomes for transgender youth. While not all transgender adolescents desire phenotypic transition to match their gender and physical body, most do. The process of transitioning is complex and requires the involvement of both a mental health therapist specializing in gender and a physician. Finding comprehensive medical and mental health services is extremely difficult for these youth, who are at risk for multiple psychosocial problems including family and peer rejection, harassment, trauma, abuse, inadequate housing, legal problems, lack of financial support, and educational problems. This review supports and describes timely medical intervention to achieve gender/body congruence paired with affirmative mental health therapy as an appropriate approach to minimize negative health outcomes and maximize positive futures for transgender adolescents.

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