Youths’ Gender Identity Treatment Raises Questions
A small but growing number of teens and even younger children who think they were born the wrong sex are getting support from parents and from doctors who give them sex-changing treatments, according to reports in the medical journal Pediatrics.
The issue raises ethical questions, and some experts urge caution in treating children with puberty-blocking drugs and hormones.
An 8-year-old second-grader in Los Angeles is a typical patient. Born a girl, the child announced at 18 months, “I a boy,” and has stuck with that belief. The family was shocked but now refers to the child as a boy and is watching for the first signs of puberty to begin treatment, his mother said.
Pediatricians need to know these children exist and deserve treatment, said Dr. Norman Spack, author of one of three reports being published today and director of one of the nation’s first gender identity medical clinics, at Children’s Hospital Boston.
Switching gender roles and occasionally pretending to be the opposite sex are common in young children. But these youths are different. They feel certain they were born with the wrong bodies.