SEATTLE - For the first time in Washington state, transgender kids entering puberty will have a clinic they can go to for coordinated care.
When the Seattle Children’s Gender Clinic opens next month, it will be only the 5th hospital in the country to do so. Doctors there have already been offering some of these services, but this new clinic will be coordinated care for transgender youth.
Tai Jordan has been seeking treatment at Seattle Children's for about three years. The 18-year-old was born female but identifies as male, and is now on cross-gender hormone treatment.
He says a simple visit to the doctor can cause great anxiety in transgender youth.
“You're looking for care, and you don't know if these doctors are going to be inclusive, or wondering if these doctors are going to out you, or say the wrong name in the waiting room, or use the wrong pronouns,” said Jordan. “If you have a gender clinic that is specifically for gender identity and for you, you feel more in charge of your healthcare.”
Clinical director Dr. David Breland will head the new program that will be housed at Seattle Children's Adolescent Clinic on Sand Point Way.
A staff of seven health care providers will offer coordinated medical care, including puberty blockers, cross-gender hormone therapy, and mental health support, to adolescent youth or kids entering puberty. That means kids as young as age 8, up to the age of 21.
Dr. Breland says offering these services through pediatric care allows patients to start treatment early enough for the best cosmetic outcome, reducing chances of discrimination and allowing for better integration into society.
“These patients and these families are incredible,” said Dr. Breland. “It's almost like if you put patients under, people under duress, like discrimination when they're able to rise out of that and be productive citizens -- it's amazing.”
The clinic will not be performing surgeries. Dr. Breland says he has been referring patients to outside providers for those services.
For example, Jordan says he’s traveling to California for chest surgery next month.
Dr. Breland says this is evidence-based treatment. Researchers at Children's conducted a study that showed a need for trained medical personnel and coordinated care for transgender youth.
Administrators say the Gender Clinic will have a ‘soft launch’ opening sometime in October.
Copyright 2016 KING