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The University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Children’s Hospital offers treatment through its Transgender Health Center to patients as young as 3 years old.
UCSF’s Child and Adolescent Gender Center “provides comprehensive medical and psychological care, as well as advocacy and legal support, to transgender, non-binary, and gender-wide children,” according to its website. “We bring together experts from inside and outside of UCSF to promote gender health and support positive outcomes for children and teens exploring gender identity and expression.”
The center is accepting new patients between the ages of 3 and 17, but patients can continue to receive care for up to 25 years. Through its program housed within UCSF’s Division of Pediatric Endocrinology, the center says it is able “to offer the most advanced medical care” through various treatment options.
The opening post on the page names such treatment as “gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists,” which the website says is “a drug that can safely suppress puberty by blocking the production of major sex hormones, estrogen and testosterone”.
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“Fully reversible, this treatment gives young people time to develop a greater awareness of their gender identity,” the site says. “For other patients, if needed, our experts can administer gender-affirming sex hormones.”
A spokesperson for the center stressed that getting clearance for teenagers to start puberty-blocking treatment is a multi-step process.
“Once an adolescent has entered puberty, the patient should be carefully assessed by a qualified gender mental health specialist, determined to meet the diagnostic criteria for gender dysphoria, and considered by the interdisciplinary team as a suitable candidate for treatment with puberty blockers,” the hospital spokesperson said. “Then and only then do the puberty blockers begin.”
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The center adds the caveat that “exceptions can be made while maintaining the mission of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals and prioritizing social justice and health equity.”
There are four locations in the Bay Area, including San Francisco, San Mateo, Oakland, and San Ramon.
UCSF’s Transgender Care page admits that caring for children classified as “transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) youth” lacks strong evidence in some aspects and even “lends itself to controversy among professionals.”
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Published guidance titled “Health Considerations for Gender-Nonconforming Transgender Children and Adolescents” published June 17, 2016 includes a warning in the Editor’s Note, referring to how treatment sometimes relies on innovators and “opinion leaders” in the absence of hard evidence.”
“Gender-affirming care for transgender youth is a young and rapidly evolving field. In the absence of strong evidence, providers often must rely on expert opinions from innovators and leaders in opinion in the field; many of these expert opinions are expressed in these young people’s guideline,” according to the editor’s note.
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“The four primary authors of this youth protocol represent many years of expertise in clinical care and research, in academic and community practice settings, and in the disciplines of adolescent medicine, endocrinology pediatrics, family medicine and advanced nursing,” he adds. .