Transition-Related Care: Understanding Gender-Affirming Practices and Therapies
Transition-related care, or gender-affirming care, refers to a range of practices and therapies that aim to affirm a transgender person’s gender identity. This umbrella term includes not only social behavior and communication practices, but also healthcare treatments such as hormone therapy and puberty blockers. As each individual’s experience is unique, transgender adults make independent decisions in consultation with mental health care professionals and medical practitioners regarding which combination of practices and treatments are suitable for them.
In a recent survey released on March 23, the Kaiser Family Foundation and The Washington Post reported that transitioning has made most transgender American adults more satisfied with their lives. Moreover, studies have demonstrated that transgender youth who take puberty blockers are significantly less likely to experience lifelong suicidal ideation than those who do not receive the care. Likewise, transgender individuals who receive transition-related hormone therapy experience reduced psychological trauma and increased life satisfaction.
It is worth noting that major medical associations support transition-related care. These associations include the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the Endocrine Society, the World Medical Association, and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health. “The bottom line is, gender-affirming care is something that is evidence-based. There are multiple medical organizations that have reviewed the literature,” said Texas Pediatric Society president Louis Appel. “These are complicated issues that really are best dealt with in the context of the physician-patient-family relationship.”
Providers overwhelmingly follow a care timeline set up by major national and global medical organizations. The Endocrine Society, for example, recommends waiting until a teenager can give informed consent (usually around age 16) to start hormone therapy. Additionally, major medical associations, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, and the Endocrine Society, have published guidelines on age-appropriate timelines for care.
According to an Endocrine Society statement, “Transgender teenagers should be afforded the same legal rights [as cisgender teenagers], together with their parents or guardians, [who] are currently deemed competent to give consent to various medical treatments.” In essence, major medical associations encourage care that is individualized and age-appropriate, while providing support to help transgender individuals achieve a better quality of life.