There have been a fair number of studies in the primary literature recently that have looked at transgender youth and their experiences. Below is a partial list of the most interesting from the last month or so, along with links to the PubMed abstracts (or the article, if it’s accessible online).
Clark, T.C., et al. (2014, January 14).The Health and Well-Being of Transgender High School Students: Results From the New Zealand Adolescent Health Survey. The Journal of Adolescent Health. [ePub ahead of print] [Available online]
A population survey of the general wellness of self-identifying gender-nonconforming adolescents in New Zealand. Not surprisingly, the survey found that “transgender youth face considerable health and well-being disparities,” and that they were “at increased risk of being bullied, having physical fights, depressive symptoms, and suicide attempts, and being unable to access health care compared with their non-transgender peers.”
Johnson, C. W., Singh, A. A., & Gonzalez, M. (2014, January 17). “It’s Complicated”: Collective Memories of Transgender, Queer, and Questioning Youth in High School. Journal of Homosexuality. [ePub ahead of print]
This survey expanded its scope to include teens across the LGBTQ community, this time in United States high schools. They found a wide diversity of experiences, but they also report three common themes: the need for LGBT youth to be more resilient than their fellow students; a strong need to feel safe in their schools; and a desire to see positive action.
Khatchadourian, K., Amed, S., & Metzger, D. L. (2013, December 15). Clinical management of youth with gender dysphoria in Vancouver. The Journal of Pediatrics. [ePub ahead of print]
A retrospective study of cases of youth GD at one hospital system in Vancouver, British Columbia. The article’s primary conclusion concerns the use and appropriateness of puberty-suppressing hormones on GD-diagnosed adolescents. Their experiences reinforce the idea that starting suppression hormones earlier, before sex-specific characteristics start to develop, will lead to more satisfactory long-term outcomes for trans youth.
Knight, R.E., et al. (2014, January 10). Examining clinicians’ experiences providing sexual health services for LGBTQ youth: considering social and structural determinants of health in clinical practice. Health Education Research. [ePub ahead of print]
Looks at the way health services are provided to LGBTQ youth from the perspectives of the healthcare providers, using surveys with a group of providers in British Columbia, Canada as their case study. They found that “institutional norms and values were identified as the dominant barriers in the effective provision of LGBTQ-tailored services” and that these providers were generally “unprepared to provide culturally competent sexual health services that have both the capacity to address individual-level issues (e.g. promoting condom use) while considering (and adapting services to) the broader socio-cultural and structural conditions.” that can render LGBTQ youth socially vulnerable.
Sills, I. N. (2014, January 8). Increasing Expertise in Caring for the Gender Dysphoric Child and Transgender Adolescent. The Journal of Pediatrics. [ePub ahead of print]
An editorial by a pediatric endocrinologist, discussing her views on the developing nature of treating trans youth. Among her observations are “that stopping puberty in gender-dysphoric children is safe and effective in carefully chosen children, and that cross-gender therapy is likewise efﬁcacious.” This editorial is written to be published concurrently with Khatchadourian, Amed, & Metzger (above), and it comments briefly on that study.
There is a lot being written about caring for trans youth in the literature in recent months, and these are only a representative sample of the work being done. Hopefully, the careful attention to trans youth needs being displayed in these articles will filter out into the larger medical community and continue to shift the care of trans youth towards compassion and understanding rather than trying to ‘treat’ what ‘ails’ them.