When a child does not express behaviors traditionally associated with his or her gender, it is normal for a parent to feel confused about the behaviors and concerned about the social pressures their child may face.
Gender-variant behaviors, behaviors traditionally associated with the opposite sex, are complex. There is not a specific cause or explanation, and support and counseling should be tailored for a patient's individual needs.
Parents also should know that they are not alone. Children's National offers two related programs for children and families, and facilitates opportunities for parents to interact and support one another:
- The Gender and Sexuality Development Program (GSDP) - an outpatient clinical program
- The Gender and Sexuality Advocacy and Education Program - a community outreach program
For more information, we also encourage you to read Children's Guide for Parents, which answers the most frequently asked questions about gender-variant behaviors and related issues.
Download the Guide for Parents in English or Spanish.
The Gender and Sexuality Psychosocial Programs hosts a private on-line community and a listserv as resources for parents. These forums provide an opportunity for parents to learn from others with a shared experience. Follow this link to read selected quotes from the members of our list-serve discussions.
Gender and Sexuality Development Program
GSDP provides outpatient psychosocial evaluations and therapeutic services for children, adolescents, and their families.
The program counsels children and their families on these issues:
- Behaviors considered at variance with generally-accepted gender roles
- Sexual identity issues
- Gender identity issues
- Psychosocial aspects of Disorders of Sex Development (DSD), also known as intersex conditions (congenital genital variations)
- Co-occurring mental health disorders among children and teens in the above categories
Gender and Sexuality Advocacy and Education Program
This award-winning program provides outreach to families and education to professionals. Through the program, we serve as advocates for children. The goal of the program is to strengthen the social conditions that allow gender-variant children to thrive, and develop a strong and positive sense of themselves and their own talents and capacities.
This program offers:
- A support group for families in the Washington, DC area
- Online groups for parents (Download a sample list-serv conversation)
- Play and social activities group for children in the Washington, DC area
- A summer camp program for families
- Educational activities and consultations to schools and other Child/Family-focused service organizations
- Child art program in collaboration with Children's New Horizions
Recognized for Excellence in Care
We appreciate the recognition our programs have received from peers and colleagues in the field. These awards reflect our commitment to providing compassionate, patient and family-centered care.
Children's Gender and Sexuality Advocacy and Education Program has been honored with several national awards, including:
- The Skylight Project Ma Vie en Rose Children's Advocate Award, San Francisco, California
- The DC Youth Pride Alliance's 10 Year Anniversary Award.
- The Stuart Nichols Award for outstanding achievements in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Mental Health
Several organizations also support the work of the program through grants and funding:
- The Scissor Sisters
- The Child Health Center Board, Children's National Health System
- Freddie Mac
- Brother Help Thyself
- Individual Donors
Disclaimer: No medical or psychological advice provided
Children's Gender and Sexuality Advocacy and Education Program does not answer specific health or mental health questions online. Information about the program and other resources may be provided by email and on the phone. The information on this website is provided as general opinions and may not be applicable to your child's particular condition, it should not be considered as medical or psychological advice, and is not intended to replace consultation with a qualified physician or mental health professional. Neither Children's National Health System nor any of its affiliates, nor any contributors, shall have any liability for the content or any errors or omissions in the information provided by this website.