AKRON, Ohio — The Akron Children's Hospital is now welcoming patients in its new Center for Gender Affirming Medicine, which will primarily offer care and a variety of services to transgender patients and LGTBQ+ youth, according to a release from the hospital.
The center is part of the hospital's Adolescent Medicine department. Patients who seek services here will see a multidisciplinary teams that includes gender-affirming medical providers as well as a social worker, nurse coordinator, mental health therapist and endocrinologist.
Patients 7 years and older will have access to the center's care and physicians.
The American Academy of Pediatrics released a statement calling for support of transgender and gender-diverse children.
"Despite increasing public awareness and some legal protections, children who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or gender-diverse often lack adequate health care, including access to mental health resources. In its first policy statement on the topic, the AAP reviews the latest research and provides recommendations that focus specifically on children who identify as transgender or gender-diverse, a term used to describe people with gender behaviors, appearances or identities that do not align with those culturally assigned to their birth sex.
“We know that family and community support are essential for any child’s healthy development, and children who are gender-diverse are no different,” said Jason Rafferty, MD, MPH, Ed, FAAP, lead author of the statement. “What is most important is for a parent to listen, respect and support their child’s self-expressed identity. This encourages open conversations that may be difficult but key to the child’s mental health and the family’s resilience and wellbeing.”
While the data is limited, population-based surveys estimate that 0.7 percent of teens ages 13 to 17 identify as transgender, according to the report. In this rapidly evolving clinical field, physicians play a role by offering a safe and inclusive place for transgender and gender-diverse youth, who have high rates of depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance use, self-harm and suicide."
Read the full statement here.
The center's medical director, Dr. Crystal Cold, said the center will give adolescents in Akron a closer alternative for care which includes the following services:
- Pubertal suppression
- Gender-affirming hormones
- Mental health care coordination
- Well checks/preventative visits
- Supportive care for LGBTQ+ youth and their families
Dr. Stephen Sondike said the center is important because transgender children who don't find an affirming place face higher risks.
"They have a higher risk of suicide, depression, mental health issues, poor functioning, poor school functioning, so we what know for certain is that having a program like this helps," Dr. Sondike said.
Julie Ann Boylen, a transgender woman, said she repressed her identity for years and believes the new center will help many children.
"For me, it means that our transgender youth are going to grow up better transgender leaders. We're going to have better outcomes. We're going to have better education," Boylen said.
Patients can make appointments at the hospital's Adolescent Medicine center, located in the Considine Professional Building, 215 West Bowery Street. Appointments can also be made by calling 330-543-8538.