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Northwestern Doctor Wants To Start Clinic For Transgender Kids

By Amy Cavanaugh in News on Mar 3, 2012 8:00PM

After the medical journal Pediatrics published reports on February 20 that doctors are increasingly treating children and teenagers who believe they were born the wrong sex, a Chicago doctor announced that he wants to start a clinic for transgender children.

CBS Chicago reports that Dr. Joel Frader, a professor at Northwestern University, wants to model the clinic after the Gender Management Service at Children’s Hospital Boston. The Boston clinic was founded by pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Norman Spack, who is one of the authors of the reports in Pediatrics. Treatments include drugs to stop or slow down puberty and sex-changing hormones, since sex reassignment surgery can only be performed on people over 18.

Spack estimates that 1 in 10,000 children believe they are born in the wrong bodies, and some of these children are diagnosed with “gender identity disorder,” which is a psychiatric diagnosis. Spack argues that research done for the report indicates that some children’s brains are more similar to those of the opposite sex. Pediatricians aren’t often sure how to treat this, and as a result, children aren’t getting the treatment they need.

It’s a controversial topic, since opponents argue that some children who receive treatment are not born the wrong sex, but gay or lesbian, while others believe that young children should not receive irreversible treatments. Advocates argue that children who don’t receive treatment are more likely to physically harm themselves and suffer emotional and physical abuse.

Frader didn’t provide any more details, other than a desire to start the clinic, but when kids aren’t getting the support they need from their pediatricians, it’s clear that they need somewhere else to turn.