Deciding when to treat a youth for gender re-assignment

When is the right time to treat a youth for gender re-assignment? Do you need advice on this subject. Hear what Dr. Johanna Olson, medical director for Trans-youth at Children's Hospital LA has to say.
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Deciding when to treat a youth for gender re-assignment

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So, what a lot of people want to understand is, "If I give my child this blocker, can I take it away, if at the end of a certain amount of time they no longer have a trans-gender identity, or they don’t want to continue on to pursue a transition with cross-sex hormones." The answer to that is, "Yes." They are reversible. You can take them off without any problems or major medical problems. But it’s very rare that that happens. In my practice, I have never had anyone who was put on blockers, that did not want to pursue cross-sex hormone transition at a later point. I know some people have had that experience in the past, but we have not at our clinic. When we make a decision to move forward with medical intervention, either puberty suppressants, or cross-sex hormones, the most important person we consider in that decision making is the child, the young person. So, if they’re in that peripubescent, or time around where there puberty is starting, or if they are well into puberty, or, past puberty, we’re still looking at the child to help us make that decision about moving forward. Although, it’s not entirely up to the child themselves, we do need an entire team to make sure those interventions are not going to be dangerous for a young person. So, when I say dangerous, I mean psychologically dangerous, I mean medically dangerous, I mean socially dangerous. Safety is a really critical piece at all of the decision making points in this process. It could be considered a judgment call, but I would like to say it’s a team decision to move forward with medications. We see children, when they’re ready to go on blockers, that become very anxious about those first signs of puberty that is unwanted for them, and that helps us understand, they are really experiencing anxiety around this, and it’s very beneficial for them to have blockers on board. There are some centers that use much more technical, psychometric testing, that looks at various and assorted factors in children’s psychiatric development. We don’t practice that model in our clinic. We work very closely with our mental health providers to understand that that child is ready to go forward with those treatments.

When is the right time to treat a youth for gender re-assignment? Do you need advice on this subject. Hear what Dr. Johanna Olson, medical director for Trans-youth at Children's Hospital LA has to say.

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Johanna Olson, MD

Medical Director, Center for Transyouth Health and Development, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

Johanna Olson, MD is a pediatrician in the Division of Adolescent Medicine at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and Medical Director of the hospital’s Center for Transyouth Health and Development.  She specializes in the care of transgender youth, gender variant children, youth with HIV, and chronic pain. Board certified in Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Dr. Olson is also an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. She has appeared on ABC's 20/20, The Dr. Phil Show, CNN, Dateline NBC and The Doctors to educate audiences about the needs of transgender youth.

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