Treating Transgender Kids in Primary Care: Understanding is Key

Linda Brookes, MSc

Disclosures

January 07, 2019

In This Article

The Rise in Gender Dysphoria

Dramatic rises in the numbers of children and adolescents receiving a diagnosis of gender dysphoria over the past 10 years have been reported across the United States. Medical insurance claims related to gender dysphoria in children and adolescents reflect this trend.[1] However, no large-scale studies have been carried out to estimate the prevalence of youth who identify as transgender.

Lynn Hunt, MD

Lynn Hunt, MD, from the department of pediatrics, University of California Irvine (UCI), and immediate past-chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Section on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Health and Wellness, says that this missing information "is not surprising when you are trying to measure a stigmatized community." Calculations based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System suggest that 0.7% of 13- to 17-year-olds self-identify as transgender.[2] Recent surveys suggest that this may be an underestimate.[3,4] Other datasets suggest that transgender youth make up between 1% and 3.2% of the US youth population.[5,6]

Knowing the exact numbers may not be important. According to Hunt, "What is important is that gender dysphoria is not seen as a trivial, one-in-a-million condition. I don't think the exact number matters so much, though we need to be cognizant of the epidemiologists' old saying that 'if you aren't counted, then you don't count.' What is important is to understand that gender dysphoria is not as rare as it was previously thought to be."

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