Studies of transgender youth highlight the importance of gender affirmative treatments (GATs). These treatments can consist of pubertal suppression or gender affirmation with the use of hormonal therapies as well as gender-affirming surgeries. Multidisciplinary supportive programs are available around the country to help guide youth and families through the options, risks, and benefits of choosing the appropriate GAT strategy. Often the primary care medical home can be the entry point to the understanding of gender identity.
Primary care providers should understand the association of GAT with the sexual behaviors of transgender and gender diverse (TGD) patients? Bungener et al (10.1542/peds.2019-1411) provide useful information thanks to a study we are early releasing this month. The authors report on 113 transgender adolescents who are assessed during and after their GAT. The youth filled out surveys on sexual and romantic experiences and sexual experiences while going through their GAT. There is an increase in sexual experiences after GAT, but transgender youth and young adults are still less experienced in all types of sexual activities compared to their cis-gender teens.
What do these findings suggest regarding when to start GAT? We invited Dr. Jason Rafferty from Hasbro Children’s Hospital and Brown University (10.1542/peds.2020-028514) to weigh in with an accompanying commentary. Dr. Rafferty advocates the importance of our offering GAT sooner than later to these youth if we want to ensure healthy sexual relationships and experiences going forward. Whether or not you have experience working with transgender and gender diverse youth, there is plenty still to learn from reading this important study and commentary.