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Transgender Youth Reluctant to Come Out to Their Doctors

Half of transgender youth said they tell healthcare providers nothing about their gender identities, survey findings indicated.

Among 204 transgender youth ages 12 to 26 who participated, 46% agreed that they “intentionally avoided disclosure” of their gender identity to healthcare providers outside of a gender clinic, Gina Sequeira, MD, MS, of the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, and colleagues wrote in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

When the survey participants were asked why they avoided disclosure, the two most common responses were “I did not feel comfortable talking about it” and “I did not know how to bring it up.”

Sequeira told MedPage Today how the study came about: “One of my patients told me that his pediatrician, who he had seen for many years, abruptly suggested he start seeing a different provider when he came out to [the original pediatrician] as transgender. This patient’s experience made we wonder if this was just an isolated incident or something other patients and their families were experiencing as well,” Sequeira said.

“My hope is that these findings highlight the need for both providers and health systems to adapt to create more welcoming environments for all patients, regardless of their gender identity,” she continued. Sequeira added that she hoped providers can adapt the findings to their own clinical practices, “to let youth know their office is a safe space to talk about their identity when they are ready.”

When asked how healthcare providers can make youth more comfortable disclosing gender identity, the majority of youth in the survey stated that creating a comfortable practice environment starts in the waiting room. This includes using forms to be able to list their name and desired pronoun and having an educated front desk staff who recognize the importance of using the correct name and pronouns for patients.

Sequeira noted that she was particularly surprised by this finding of how impactful interactions beyond just the doctor-patient encounter in the clinic can have on an individuals’ comfort and willingness to discuss their gender: “More specifically, about how important their experiences in the waiting room, filling out forms, and having conversations with front desk staff were to [the youth’s] comfort with disclosure,” she explained.

Excerpted from “Transgender Youth Reluctant to Come Out to Their Doctors” in MedPage Today. Read the full article.

Source: MedPage Today | Transgender Youth Reluctant to Come Out to Their Doctors, https://www.medpagetoday.com/pediatrics/generalpediatrics/85000 | © 2020 MedPage Today, LLC

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