A Multidisciplinary Program for Gender-Diverse Youth and Their Families
Some young people feel, sense or know they are a gender different than the one they were assumed at birth. They may live and dress in ways typical of another gender (gender non-conformity), and some may experience the need to live and be affirmed as this gender in some or all settings. This can be an urgent need, or for others, there may be experimentation and exploration. There are also some young people who show gender non-conformity in their everyday behaviors, but may not yet have the self-advocacy skills to discuss their gender identity and their gender-related needs. Each child's gender journey is unique.
The gender development of a child may be confusing to parents and families, providers, and sometimes young people themselves. Parents may wonder:
- How can my child's gender-related needs best be supported?
- How do we navigate our child's gender diversity in everyday life (e.g., with family, in school, when moving into adulthood, etc.)?
- Is my child transgender?
- Will my child's gender and gender-related needs change over time?
The needs of gender-diverse youth are often complex, requiring a multidisciplinary team approach and ongoing care supports over time.
The Gender Development Program at Children's National has been supporting the gender needs of youth and their families for the past 20 years. As one of the earliest founded youth gender programs, we are a multidisciplinary team of specialists who work in the assessment and broad care needs of youth on the gender spectrum and their families. We also conduct cutting-edge research to move forward our understanding of youth gender development and ways to best support gender-diverse and transgender youth. Research findings inform all of our clinical care.
We work with gender exploring, gender non-conforming, gender dysphoric, gender non-binary, transgender and gender-questioning young people, and we see children and adolescents of all ages. We also work with youth who have genetic and other conditions in which gender variation is common.
- Personalized evaluations and tailored care: This includes evaluation of your child's gender development and needs in the real world. Throughout care with us, your child will receive supports tailored to their unique needs, in coordination with an existing community of professionals your child already sees to ensure continuity and consistency of care.
- Comprehensive services and collaboration with multiple specialties: From initial and ongoing evaluation and support to specialists in medical treatments such as Veronica Gomez-Lobo, M.D., a pediatric gynecologist who provides medical interventions such as puberty suppression or hormone therapy, the program offers a full spectrum of care options based on the needs of each young person.
- Unique programs for diverse needs:
- Children and teens who have both autism spectrum characteristics (or related conditions) and gender dysphoria have access to a support program designed specifically for them: the Gender and Autism Program led by John Strang, Psy.D. Many providers refer patients to our program to access these services, which may not be offered elsewhere.
- The Gender Development Program works closely with the Youth Pride Clinic, which offers primary and specialty care services to LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning/queer) patients.
Evaluation and Ongoing Supports
Your child’s care will start with an initial evaluation by our team. During this two to three-hour visit, you will meet the team together with your child and also separately. The goals of these visits vary from family to family and may include:
- Understanding the various aspects of your child’s gender development
- Screening for any mental health concerns/risks
- Support for parenting a gender diverse child
- Support for families navigating issues related to siblings, friends, school, etc.
We may ask you and your child to return for periodic follow-up visits. These visits can help us make a more extended evaluation. Your team also may suggest treatments or supportive services through Children’s National or in the community such as:
- Individual supports for youth and/or parents
- Family-specific supports
- School supports/interventions
- Support groups for you and/or your child
Recognized for Excellence
Our colleagues and peers have recognized the important care our Gender Development Program provides. Our advocacy and education efforts have been honored with the following national awards recognizing our commitment to providing compassionate, patient- and family-centered care:
- The Skylight Project Ma Vie En Rose Children’s Advocate Award, San Francisco, California
- The D.C. Youth Pride Alliance's 10 Year Anniversary Award
- The Stuart Nichols Award for outstanding achievements in gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community mental health
For more information or to make an appointment, please contact us at 202-729-3300.