Gender Health Special Interest Group
Gender-diverse youth are children and adolescents who experience their gender in a way that is different than their assigned sex at birth. This includes (but is not limited to) people who identify as transgender, nonbinary, genderfluid, agender, or gender non-conforming. These youth often face an overwhelming number of challenges to their overall health and emotional well-being, including experiences of discrimination, rejection, or lack of access to healthcare services. Elevated rates of depression, anxiety, self-harm, and suicidality are commonly experienced by gender-diverse individuals. Longitudinal studies on the effects of access to gender-affirming medical interventions for youth and young adults have demonstrated reductions in psychological distress and improvements in quality of life.
To address these needs, the number of pediatric multidisciplinary gender health programs has grown rapidly over the past decade. Pediatric psychologists often function as integral team members within these clinics, providing diagnostic evaluations, therapeutic support services for the patient and their family, and/or assessment of patient readiness for undergoing gender-affirming medical/surgical intervention, in addition to engaging in broader advocacy efforts aimed at supporting the gender-diverse community. However, significant variation in clinical practice exists between centers of care, need for services has largely outpaced the available empirical literature regarding best practices, and many psychologists lack formal training in gender-affirming care.
The Gender Health Special Interest Group (GH SIG) was founded in 2019 to provide a national platform for collaboration among pediatric psychologists engaged in clinical care, research, education and training activities pertaining to the care of gender-diverse youth. The SIG’s primary goals include:
- Educating others about gender diversity and promoting awareness of the needs of gender-diverse youth and their families.
- Identifying high-priority research needs pertaining to the assessment and treatment of gender-diverse youth and supporting cross-site collaboration in such research efforts.
- Developing culturally and developmentally informed best-practice models of service delivery for psychologists working with gender-diverse youth in interdisciplinary medical settings.
- Developing training opportunities at the graduate, intern, and postdoctoral levels to ensure that pediatric psychologists continue to function at the cutting edge of psychological science promoting the physical and emotional health of gender-diverse youth.
Kelly Donahue, PhD
Indiana University School of Medicine/Riley Hospital for Children
Kerry McGregor, PsyD
Harvard Medical School/Boston Children’s Hospital