The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released a new policy paper underscoring the need for “gender-affirming health care” for all transgender and gender-diverse youth (TGD).
The AAP said the proposed guidelines for treating TGD youth focus “on promoting the health and positive development” of those patients while “eliminating discrimination and stigma.”
Just two weeks ago, the AAP released the findings of a three-year study that showed a huge disparity between trans and non-trans youth in regard to suicide attempts.
While 14% of teen admitted to previous suicide attempts, the number jumped to a stunning 50.8% among female to male trans adolescents. Nonbinary youth reported a 41.8% suicide attempt rate, and 29.9% of male to female adolescents admitted to attempted suicide.
The author of the new policy paper, Dr. Jason Rafferty, told NBC News, “the biggest thing right now is a lack of education around this issue.”
Rafferty hopes the new guidance will aid not only trans youth and providers, but parents “in terms of approaching a provider, approaching a situation, knowing what to expect from your provider — knowing what sort of practice the evidence supports.”
The crux of the policy paper is to underscore the importance of a ‘gender-affirmative care model (GACM).
In a GACM, pediatricians approach young trans patients (and their families) as a “strong, nonjudgemental partnership” that allows concerns and questions to be shared in a “supportive environment.”
When adopting a GACM, the AAP encourages specific messaging to be conveyed:
1. Transgender identities and diverse gender expressions do not constitute a mental disorder
2. Variations in gender identity and expression are normal aspects of human diversity, and binary definitions of gender do not always reflect emerging gender identities
3. Gender identity evolves as an interplay of biology, development, socialization, and culture
4. If a mental health issue exists, it most often stems from stigma and negative experiences rather than being intrinsic to the child