Big Gaps in Transgender Research: A Team at UCSF Is Working to Change That

transgender 420Since 2015, researchers at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital clinic have been conducting a study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health that will involve nearly 300 young patients ages 8 to 18 to understand the long-term effects of transgender treatments. These include puberty-blocking hormones, which give patients more time to explore their gender identity, and testosterone and estrogen.

The NIH grant is spread equally across Benioff Children’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Boston Children’s Hospital and Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, where patients are being monitored extensively during the first two years of their treatments.

The number of adults, adolescents and children who openly identify as transgender has grown in recent years. Today, roughly 150,000 kids in the U.S. ages 13 to 17 identify as transgender, making up 0.7 percent of that age group, according to the Williams Institute, a think tank at UCLA School of Law.

Previous research out of the Netherlands tracked transgender patients 12 and older. But the UCSF study is the first one to include children under 12 and rigorously assess transgender patients’ psychological and physical health.

“Parents will say to us, ‘What do you really know about the long-term effects of puberty blockers? Who has really studied the children for 20 years?’” said Diane Ehrensaft, a clinical psychologist and the UCSF clinic’s mental health director. “And we say, ‘That’s what we plan to do.’”

The clinic uses the “gender affirmative model.” It allows transgender individuals — people whose gender identity does not align with their biological sex — and “gender-expansive” individuals, who do not conform to either the male or female gender, to freely express their gender identity.

Patients enrolled in the UCSF clinic’s study complete a litany of forms and an extensive interview by a physician every six months for two years. They also have follow-up appointments with their doctors to track their physical transition throughout the study.

Excerpted from “Big gaps in transgender research: A team at UCSF is working to change that” in the San Jose Mercury News online.  Read the full article.

Source: San Jose Mercury News | Big gaps in transgender research: A team at UCSF is working to change that, | Copyright © 2019 MediaNews Group, Inc.

Read about this study on UCSF website: First U.S. Study of Transgender Youth Funded by NIH.

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