Children’s Health transgender clinic is no longer

It surprised providers and patient families when the GENECIS Clinic was removed from the Children’s Health and UT Southwestern websites, but it was not a problem. The clinic, the first of its kind in the southwest and the only option for transgender youth in the area, has been dissolved and will not treat any new patients for gender dysphoria.

Trained by UT Southwestern pediatric endocrinologist Dr Ximena Lopez, the Interdisciplinary Support Program for Gender Education and Care (GENECIS) was one of the few programs in the country when it was created. But the clinic and the practice had been criticized in recent months.

Sseveral bills were introduced in the last Texas legislative session in an attempt to limit gender-affirming care to transgender youth. Senate Bill 1311, which was passed by the Senate but not the House, would have revoked the medical license and liability insurance coverage of any physician who prescribed hormone therapy or puberty-suppressing therapy for the purpose of transitioning from kind.

In September, conservative advocacy group Save Texas Kids called on state officials to investigate children’s health due to its treatment of transgender children. “Dallas Children’s Board Members Refuse To Promise They Will Limit “Gender Dysphoria” Patients Under 18 To Therapy Only! »The group wrote on its Facebook page. “This is our only request. Children and young adolescents seek a sense of belonging and identity throughout their youth. It’s normal. What is NOT normal is allowing children to undergo irreversible “puberty block therapy”, which is akin to chemical castration. We ask the GENECIS clinic to stop this practice immediately.

Save Texas Kids also lobbied members of the Children’s board to shut down the clinic. On Facebook Publish the week before the brand’s withdrawal, the group urged its members to protest at the home of Robbie Briggs, a member of the board of directors of Children’s Health and owner of luxury retail firm Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International. “2 p.m. tomorrow! Protest Robbie Briggs, Dallas Children’s Council Member! The November 16 post reads. “The GENECIS Children’s Clinic in Dallas performs lifelong hormone therapy (puberty blocking procedures) on children as young as 10 years old, before they are fully developed in their minds and bodies. JOIN US tomorrow! See the event published below! “

But just a few months before removing the clinic’s brand image and no longer accepting new patients, Children’s Health defended its practices. He issued a statement: “With a suicide attempt rate of up to 41% in children and adolescents with gender dysphoria, there is a need to support comprehensive care for these young people. In view of the significant suffering and the extraordinarily high suicide rate among these children, a comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach is needed to help address this medical problem. “

The clinic never offered sex reassignment surgery but used hormonal treatments delay puberty, which is a reversible process according to the clinic. From now on, comprehensive care will be divided among specialist groups at the hospital for existing patients. New patients will not receive hormone therapy, although existing patients will not have their treatment interrupted, said Children’s Health and UTSW D CEO in a joint statement.

“Pediatric endocrinology, psychiatry and the care of adolescents and young adults coordinated through this program are now managed and coordinated by each specialized department. We do not anticipate any interruption of care or services for our existing patients who are already receiving care with these specialized teams. The choice to remove the brand for this care offers a more private and isolated experience for patients and their families, ”the statement said.

Curious as to why the original statement referred to the interruption of services for existing patients, D CEO asked about the new patients and found that they would no longer receive hormone therapy. “New patients will be seen in the appropriate specialist services,” the two organizations replied in a joint statement. “We are accepting new patients for diagnosis, including assessment for gender dysphoria, but we will not initiate patients on hormone therapy or puberty suppression therapy just for this diagnosis. Coordination of care continues to be available, including social work support.

Gender affirming care

Few physicians have the expertise to provide these patients with the care they need. The unique combination of mental health, hormone therapy, and assertiveness needs is a unique skill set that most pediatricians lack. Dr. Lauren Gore is a pediatrician with Pediatric Associates of Dallas and has referred patients to GENECIS. “I don’t know how to talk about puberty with a child who has gender dysphoria and the emotions that come with it,” she says. “These mental health professionals are specifically trained in gender dysphoria and they are designing a whole system of gender-affirming care with the experience to help people get through some difficult transitions like puberty that I didn’t. not.”

Areana Quiñones, Executive Director of Texas nonprofit Doctors For Change, describe gender-affirming care according to the Texas Tribune as “individualized, non-judgmental care geared towards a person’s understanding and appreciation of a person’s gender.” More time is spent allowing children to make the social transition instead of focusing on medical treatment. A social transition consists of the steps that a child goes through to assert their identity. An example might include allowing an assigned male child at birth to wear clothes, grow hair, or use a different name that better matches their identity.

For existing patients, removing the clinic brand can provide a more private and isolated experience. Perhaps the practice will not be a lightning rod for conservative activists, even if the services are the same. But new patients who want the same level of treatment, which has been claimed by the American Psychiatric Association and American Academy of Pediatrics as standard of care, must go elsewhere. According to at the Human Rights Campaign, Children’s Health was the only such program in the state. The closest clinics are now in Oklahoma and Arkansas.

The simple act of removing the mark from the clinic could also have consequences. “The existence of a clinic that claims that transgender children provide a certain level of comfort for children,” says Rachel Gonzalez, board member of the Human Rights Commission Parents for Transgender Equality. Her child is receiving treatment at the clinic and has testified before the Texas legislature against anti-transgender bills. “Whether they have access to it or not, knowing that this is where there are people who affirm who they are, must be an asset for their well-being and their mental health. “

For parents like Gonzalez who want gender-affirming healthcare for their children, the thought of having to go back to the legislature to fight for treatment is exhausting. “It’s so hard to continue to testify over the years,” she said. “I can’t look someone in the eye in the community and tell them we need to go back to Capitol Hill. We cannot do that.

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