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The Children’s Hospital of the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) offers treatments for patients as young as three years old through its transgender health center.
UCSF’s Child and Adolescent Gender Center “provides comprehensive medical and psychological care, as well as advocacy and legal support, to transgender, non-binary, and gender-expansive children,” according to the website. “We are bringing together experts from both within and outside UCSF to advance gender health and support positive outcomes for children and adolescents exploring gender identity and expression.”
The center accepts new patients from ages 3 to 17, but patients can continue to receive care up to age 25. Through its program housed in the UCSF division of pediatric endocrinology, the center says it can “provide the most advanced medical care” through various treatment options.
The opening post on the page lists such treatment as “gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists,” which the website says are “medications that can safely suppress puberty by blocking the production of the key sex hormones, estrogen, and testosterone.”
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Facade with logo at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, San Francisco, California, April 18, 2021. (Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)
“This treatment is completely reversible and gives young people time to gain greater self-awareness of their gender identity,” the website says. “For other patients, our experts can administer sex-confirming sex hormones, if appropriate.”
A spokesperson for the center emphasized that starting adolescents on puberty-blocking treatment is a multi-step process.
Once an adolescent has entered puberty, the patient should be thoroughly evaluated by a qualified gender mental health professional, determined to meet the diagnostic criteria for gender dysphoria, and considered by the interdisciplinary team as an appropriate candidate for a course of treatment with puberty blockers,” the hospital spokesperson said. “Then and only then, puberty blockers are started.”
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The center adwarnshat, “exceptions can be made while preserving the mission of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals and prioritizing social justice and health equity.”
People supported the Netflix transgender strike in Los Angeles, California, on Oct. 20, 2021. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
There are four locations in the Bay Area, including San Francisco, San Mateo, Oakland, and San Ramon.
UCSF’s Transgender Care page admits that the care of children categorized as “transgender and gender non-conforming (TGNC) youth” lacks solid evidence in some facets and even “lends itself to controversy among professionals.”
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The published guidelines entitled “Health Considerations for Non-Compliant Children and Transgender Adolescents,” released June 17, 2016, contain a warning in the Editor’s Note, referring to how treatment sometimes relies on innovators and “thought leaders” in the “absence of hard evidence.”
A contestant holds photos of transgender people murdered in 2022 during the annual Pride Parade on June 12, 2022, in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles. (David McNew/Getty Images)
Gender-affirmative care for transgender youth is a young and rapidly evolving field. Without solid evidence, healthcare providers often rely on the expert opinions of innovators and opinion leaders; many of these expert opinions are expressed in this youth guideline. Editor.
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“The four primary authors for this youth protocol represent years of expertise in clinical care and research, both in academic and community practice, and within adolescent medicine, pediatric endocrinology, family medicine, and advanced practice nursing,” it adds. †