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Children's Minnesota launches new health service for transgender youth

The hospital system will provide care specifically focused on transgender and gender-diverse children.

Children's Minnesota will be adding a new health program designed specifically for transgender or gender-diverse youth.

The health system, which has its main hospitals in Minneapolis and St. Paul as well as clinics dotted around the metro area, announced Tuesday the launch of its "Gender Health Program."

It will become one of only a dozen-or-so hospitals that provide specialized care and support for transgender children and their families, noting that this is one of the areas within the U.S. health system where inequities still exist.

"Our goal is to become the go-to resource for transgender and gender-diverse children from across the region," said Dr. Angela Kade Goepferd, medical director for the program and vice chief of staff, in a press announcement.

"Often, families find themselves having to educate their primary care pediatricians, schools, neighbors and family members about how to appropriately care for gender-diverse children. At the Gender Health Program, families can access medical experts they can trust and get the answers they need to help them navigate the complexities they may encounter."

It comes amid an increasing number of youth across the U.S. and the world identifying as transgender or gender non-conforming (TGNC).

A study based on the 2016 Minnesota Student Survey found that as many as 2.7 percent of Minnesota 9th-11th graders identified as TGNC, out of more than 80,000 students who responded.

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The same study found students who identified as TGNC reported "significantly poorer health, lower rates of preventive health checkups, and more nurse office visits than cisgender youth."

They stand to benefit therefore from the addition of a specialized service at Children's, which will offer a "variety of services that will support transgender and gender-diverse youth in their health and development."

Children's has released a list of the services it will offer:

  • Gender consultation: Meeting with a gender-health expert to discuss developmental questions and concerns about gender identity and develop a personalized care plan.
  • Pubertal suppression: This fully reversible treatment can put puberty “on pause” for kids in mid to late puberty, which is given as an injection or done as an implant
  • Menstrual suppression: This involves medication, shots or implants to stop menstruation for patients.
  • Gender-affirming hormone treatment: This involves hormones that create changes in the body to align with patient’s gender identity. 
  • Fertility preservation consultation: A fertility specialist will discuss options with patients prior to starting gender affirming treatment.

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