Support for Transgender Children and Youth

by emilycao on April 7, 2014 - 9:30am

The article “Transgender children in Canada to get more support, expert says” posted on December 6, 2013, by CBC News (no author) on CBC’s website discusses help offered for transgender children in Canada. Studies show that 20 to 30 percent of transgender youth have attempted suicide and 47 percent seriously considered it. These numbers convinced psychiatrist Simon Trepel to start the Gender Dysphoria Assessment and Action for Youth (GDAAY) clinic in Winnipeg. Trepel’s clinic helped 18-year-old Xavier Raddysh find resources and information he needed, and the boy claims that he would have been way depressed without the clinic. There are currently only five clinics of this type in Canada. GDAAY clinic treats children as young as four years old and starting from seven years old, children can take hormones blocking physical changes of puberty, a reversible therapy. In their early teens, they can do cross-hormone therapy and for sex reassignment surgery, they will have to be at least 18. In most Canadian cities, plastic surgeons will perform “top body surgeries”. For “bottom surgeries”, one of the only places in Canada that offer gender reassignment surgery is a gender surgery clinic run by Dr. Pierre Brassard, in Montreal. Kerry Bowman, bioethicist at the University of Toronto, questions whether children wanting to transition from a gender to another is “truly an autonomous, independent wish that’s reflective of their values, or [if they are] internalizing a lot of very negative messages and stereotypes in society”.

I believe it is important to inform young transgender people about options that they have concerning their gender. Transgender children are more vulnerable to bullying and depression and having clinics like the GDAAY is helpful for those who face gender dysphoria. However, before letting children making important decisions that might change their lives, I think it is also important to really talk to them and be sure that it is what they want. In fact, data shows that a majority of children expressing transgender identity will not go on to have transgender issues when teenagers or adults. However, teenagers often will. It is thus important to wait before letting children decide what they want. 

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