More doctors needed to provide care for transgender youth

Waiting room
More doctors are need to treat transgender youth.

Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago opened its transgender clinic just four years ago but already has 500 patients and has seen a jump in the number of younger patients seeking care. Indeed, patients have to wait four months to get an appointment. 

That’s one just example of the demand for medical care to treat transgender youth, according to STAT. There’s both a need for more clinicians to provide medical care for young patients who believe they have been born into the wrong body and for earlier treatment, the report says.

The demand for transgender medical care, including counseling, hormone treatments and genital surgery, is exploding. The more than 30 clinics that provide care for transgender youth across the country are struggling to keep up with the demand, according to STAT.

The need is increasing as public awareness about transgender issues grows. Caitlyn Jenner, probably the world’s most famous transgender person, has helped to promote the issue and has urged doctors to educate themselves about the needs of transgender patients. With the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and other payers providing coverage for transition surgeries for transgender patients, more hospitals now offer such procedures.

Pediatrician Dr. Johanna Olson-Kennedy works at the country’s largest center for transgender youth, the Center for Transyouth Health and Development at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, which treats 725 trans youth from across the western U.S. She told the publication she is worried that once President-elect Donald Trump takes office he will cut access to the healthcare patients need to transition. 

Though the healthcare industry has made strides toward meeting the needs of transgender patients, gaps for trans men and women persist. Of particular concern to the transgender community are mental health issues, including the high rate of suicide among teens, according to Jenner. "These kids are emotionally delicate. In some cases, even if you do everything right you can still lose them," Jenner said.