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A recent study claims that better trained physicians can improve the quality of care provided to transgender youths. As per the researchers, many pediatricians in the country do not get enough training for gender-affirming healthcare, and so, only a few of such patients actually get proper services. The research team also came up with a few suggestions to manage the situation.

As written in the Journal of Adolescent Health, “Transgender people, whose gender does not align with their sex assigned at birth, experience higher rates of anxiety, depression, substance abuse and suicide than other people.” Experts say that if trans youth were provided with gender-affirming healthcare like inter-sex hormones and puberty stoppers in due time, it would help in improving their body image and lower the risks of later mental health issues.

According to the study, the hurdles in providing proper healthcare at present include insufficient training in gender-affirming healthcare, uncoordinated care, conflicting healthcare protocols, improper use of trans youth’s name or pronoun, and delayed or limited access to treatment and insurance services.

Samantha Gridley, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, a member of the research, said that mandatory training on gender-affirming healthcare should be provided to pediatric service providers and staffs. The team of experts also recommended improving the protocols for transgender youth healthcare. As long as the chosen name and pronoun usage goes, Gridley’s team suggested recording that in proper medical records. They also recommended designating patient navigators to help trans patients.

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Dr. Aron Janssen, Director of the Gender and Sexuality Service at NYU Langone’s Child Study Center believes that healthcare for transgender youths is gradually moving ahead in the right direction, but needs better medical education and awareness to bring forth fruitful results. He also highlighted that many healthcare units have come forward to support this, and are providing the required education for physicians to manage and improve transgender youth healthcare.

“The important piece about the study is that it incorporates the patient’s family’s voice. All too often, services are developed without the perspective of patients and their families. I think it’s a vital piece and a piece that we haven’t heard much of,” Dr. Janssen said, and added “Too often the patient and family voices are absent in the scientific literature and they’re the ones who are most affected by treatment and access issues, and they’re crucial to the research we do.”