Challenges for transgender children during puberty

Diane Ehrensaft, PhD, explains the challenges that face transgender youths during puberty and explains what some potential options are for them to deal with it
Challenges for Transgender Children During Puberty
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Challenges for transgender children during puberty

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When children reach puberty and then go into adolescence, there are some very particular challenges for transgender youth. The first one is puberty. That for many youth, they reach puberty and they're horrified about the unwelcome changes in their body that speak to them that, "Game's over, it's a done deal, I'm going to be trapped the rest of my life in the wrong body. So could somebody please help me? I don't want that to happen." For those youth, there are some treatments that can help them. There are puberty blockers to stop the puberty of the unwanted gender development and give them time to sort it out, to make sure that indeed they want to live in their firm gender and then they can get cross-sex hormones to help them. But that's going to be a challenge to have to make those decisions in adolescence. The second major challenge for transgender youth is transphobia. It is not an easy world for transgender youth once they hit middle school and high school. The level of bullying and harassment goes up remarkably. In it's most unfortunate circumstances we read about children taking their own lives or having lost their lives purely because of their gender presentation. And it takes a lot of fortitude and resilience for a transgender child to move into adolescence and to continue to feel good about themselves and feel safe. So what we need in those years is railing around them with supports and supports and more supports.

Diane Ehrensaft, PhD, explains the challenges that face transgender youths during puberty and explains what some potential options are for them to deal with it

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Diane Ehrensaft, PhD

Clinical Psychologist

Diane Ehrensaft, PhD is a developmental and clinical psychologist in Oakland, California. She is a parenting expert and also specializes in gender studies and psychotherapy and consultation with gender nonconforming children and their families. She is the author of Gender Born, Gender Made:  Raising Healthy Gender-Nonconforming Children; Mommies Daddies, Donors, Surrogates, Building a Home Within (co-edited with Toni Heineman), Spoiling Childhood, and Parenting Together. Dr. Ehrensaft has made many media appearances, most recently the Anderson Cooper Day show, and has presented and published both nationally and internationally on the subjects of parenting, child development, assisted reproductive technology, and children’s gender development and gender nonconformity.

Dr. Ehrensaft is the Director of Mental Health of the Child and Adolescent Gender Center, a University of California San Francisco-community partnership offering interdisciplinary services to gender conforming children and youth and their families, as well as the psychologist at the UCSF Gender Clinic.

She serves on the faculty of The University of California and is a founding member of A Home Within, a national non-profit organization serving the mental health needs of children and youth in foster care.

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