The subject of my research paper for the Capstone course centers around Gender Dysphoria (GD). While I plan to explore many angles of GD, I do not plan to tackle Gender Dysphoria in children in my paper. As such, I thought it would be interesting to briefly explore how GD has impacted children. Gender Dysphoria is defined as the distress caused by a discrepancy between a person's gender identity and the one assigned to them at birth.
When I was a child, the question of someone’s sexual identity was not even a question. You were either a male or a female. To be anything else was taboo and was something many individuals would hide for fear of backlash, loss of friendships and maybe even loss of family association. In fact, if you watch old movies, listen to old songs or think back to the dinner conversations with your family when you were a child, homosexuality was admonished religiously and was often joked about or used to insult someone. Many people suffered in silence because they did not feel that they could be their true selves. The terms Gender Dysphoria or Gender Identity were either never heard of or not widely known.
Thanks to the Gay Rights (or Gay Liberation) Movement, members of the LGBTQ community have gained rights and protection under anti-discrimination laws, the ability to marry someone of the same sex, and recognition as a community. While there certainly is still more work to do to give members of the LGBTQ community full rights and protections enjoyed by heterosexual individuals, significant progress has been made.
Thousands of children today between the ages of 6 and 17 identify as a gender that differs from the gender they were assigned at birth. Between 2017 and 2021, almost 122,000 children ages 6 – 17 years of age were diagnosed with gender dysphoria. Many of these children have sought some form of gender affirming care, which consists of one or more of the following:
- Social recognition through the use of preferred pronouns
- Medication such as hormone therapy
Gendered pronouns include she, he, her, him, hers, his, herself and himself. People who experience gender dysphoria may ask others to use a pronoun to reference themselves as a way of identifying as the sex that was not assigned to them at birth.
Puberty blocking medication, known as GnRH, suppresses the release of the sex hormones testosterone and estrogen. Between 2017 and 2021, at least 4,780 adolescents who started on puberty blockers had a prior GD diagnosis. During this period, use of hormone therapy more than doubled. In total, approximately 14,730 minors started hormone treatment with a prior GD diagnosis. These hormones were either taken by injection, pills, patches or gels.
This is the most extreme treatment of gender affirming care and is uncommon in patients under the age of 18. Most children’s hospitals and clinics require individuals to be an adult to make the decision to have surgery. Nevertheless, between 2019 and 2021 there were 56 genital surgeries performed among patients between the ages of 13 and 17. Among teens, the “top surgery” was the removal of breasts. During this same period, at least 776 mastectomies were performed in the United States on patients in this age group.
As members of the LGBTQ community continue to fight to gain more rights and recognition, I expect that gender affirming care numbers for children between the ages of 6 to 17 will continue to increase exponentially.
M3 Assignment - Social Media Post © 2023 by Shalom Wilburn is licensed underCC BY 4.0
 Putting Numbers on the Rise of Children Seeking Gender Care, https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/usa-transyouth-data/#:~:text=In%202021%2C%20about%2042%2C000%20children,data%20Komodo%20compiled%20for%20Reuters. (Last visited Sept. 21, 2023).