Many children have a much stronger sense of self than adults do. It's only as they're told who to be that they lose their ability to know who they are. That's why the American Academy of Pediatrics is telling parents and caregivers, if children say they're transgender, that they need to believed. Children know who they are, and we must be doing the most we can to make sure they're safe. Trans and gender diverse kids and teens need to know that their support system reaches beyond their families; their medical providers should also be helping them in any way they can, and assuring their patients they have the most up to date information.
As more children are coming out as trans and gender diverse, the AAP realizes that many pediatricians are unable to offer the kids and their families all the support they need. This goes beyond just medical care, even though being as up to date with that information is incredibly important. Pediatricians are often the people that parents look to for help in these situations, so it's imperative they are actually able to guide their patients and their families down the right path. As is, doctors can and do refuse trans patients all the time. So, if the ones who don't aren't helpful, then where do trans kids and their families turn?
The @AmerAcadPeds stands against stigmatization and marginalization of transgender and gender-diverse youths.— AAP News (@AAPNews) September 17, 2018
A new policy aims to help pediatricians and parents navigate their health concerns while advocating for ways to eliminate discrimination. https://t.co/Fdrdap0UVi pic.twitter.com/rsivHJVOu0
Luckily, the AAP has released statements in support of the trans community. They understand not only the physical needs to have pediatricians who are well versed in the medical issues and needs of the community, but also the mental health aspect. So often, the conversation focuses on the physical health, but mental health is almost more important, especially when it comes to trans children. Being stigmatized and marginalized by the world absolutely takes its toll. This is especially true with teens and tweens.
According to reports provided by the AAP, the amount of youth who reported suicidal ideations and attempts is significantly higher. 56 percent of youth who identify as trans have had suicidal ideations, while 31 percent have made an attempt. For cisgender (people who identify as the gender they were born as) youth, those numbers are 20 percent and 11 percent respectively. This is a huge difference.
A new study revealed the shocking rates of attempted suicide among trans adolescents. This further emphasizes the urgency of building welcoming and safe communities for LGBTQ young people, particularly for trans youth. https://t.co/KtoNSkdIpm— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) September 12, 2018
"There is no evidence that risk for mental illness is inherently attributable to one’s identity of TGD. Rather, it is believed to be multifactorial, stemming from an internal conflict between one’s appearance and identity, limited availability of mental health services, low access to health care providers with expertise in caring for youth who identify as TGD, discrimination, stigma, and social rejection," the AAP report states.
It is incredibly important that trans and gender diverse kids receive the support they need from all the adults in their lives. That starts with their families, and extends to the people who care for them. Hopefully with these new AAP guidelines, more medical professionals will begin to educate themselves to better help the families they care for.