Stories about: transgender

Transgender protections: Keeping kids safe

a gender neutral restroom for transgender people
PHOTO: ADOBE STOCK

The next time you need to use a public restroom, stand outside the door and take a moment to think about which one you should use. Would you feel safer in the ladies’ room, or would using the men’s room make you more comfortable? Now consider that the average person urinates between six and eight times a day — more often if they’re drinking a lot of fluids. Imagine facing this dilemma every time you feel the urge.

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‘Finally who I should be’: Meet Zack

Following phalloplasty, Zack's transition is complete.
Zack with part of his care team: Elizabeth Boskey, Dr. Amir Taghinia, Dr. Oren Ganor and Dr. David Diamond. (ALL PHOTOS: COURTESY OF ZACK HOGLE)

Zack Hogle woke up feeling groggy, sore and — at last — whole. He had just undergone more than 14 hours of surgery, but he was elated. “When I looked down at my body, I couldn’t stop crying,” he says. “I finally felt like myself.”

The surgery was the last step in what had been a lifelong journey. Growing up in a small town in Western Massachusetts, Zack, now 24, says he always knew he felt different. “I hated my body,” he remembers. “I thought, ‘I’m not the same as other kids and this isn’t okay.’” It wasn’t until he was in high school that he learned the word transgender and what that meant. The realization was a turning point.

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Norman Spack: Saving transgender lives

SpackNorman_06In traditional Navaho culture, individuals with the physical or behavioral features of both genders are considered “two-spirited” and often arbitrate in marriage disputes because they’re trusted to see both sides of the story. In the broader American culture, though, identifying with a gender different from the one assigned at birth—what we call transgender—is not fully understood or accepted.

That’s changing—slowly. Recent cultural developments—including the rise of transgender characters in TV shows such as “Orange is the New Black” and “Transparent” and the high-profile transitions of celebrities like Bruce Jenner, who is being interviewed by Diane Sawyer on ABC’s 20/20—have brought about a heightened interest and awareness of the transgender population and their journey towards acceptance.

That journey can be especially challenging for transgender teens and young adults, a population with a startlingly high rate of suicide attempts and mental health struggles. We sat down to learn more about transgender youth and adults from one of the leaders in the field, endocrinologist Norman P. Spack, MD, co-director (with Urologist-in-Chief David A. Diamond, MD) of the Gender Management Service (GeMS) program at Boston Children’s Hospital—the first of its kind in the nation.

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Children’s in the News: courageous Children’s family speaks with Boston Globe

The Boston Sunday Globe recently ran a cover story about a Children’s Hospital Boston family being treated at our Gender Management Services Clinic (GeMS). It was an in-depth and well-written piece about a family raising a transgender teenager and her treatment at Children’s. The GeMS Clinic is the first major program in the United States to focus on gender identity disorder in children and adolescents, a population who are often victims of bullying and harassment and have the highest rate of suicide attempts in the world. 

I highly recommend the Boston Globe article, as well as the following companion blog, in which the father of the family discusses why they chose to share their story with the world…

My wife Kelly and I have had a number of defining moments since our twin children came into our lives. Each has been special in it’s own way, but most of these moments have been things that all parents can relate to: birthdays, first days of school and teaching the kids to ride a bike. But our family has also seen our fair share of different experiences; experiences that have been both frightening and extraordinary. Even some things that seemed simple at first went on to have a level of complexity we never expected.

Since sharing our story, we’ve met so many special people that have helped Nicole and changed our family forever. When we met Dr. Norman Spack, at Children’s Gender Management Services Clinic (GeMS) it was the first time we felt hope that Nicole could one day achieve her dreams. During that first visit, he lifted a tremendous amount of fear and worry from our shoulders and the smile on Nicole’s face when she left his office will forever be imprinted in my memory. I am not ashamed to say that I had doubts at first, but in one visit Dr. Spack erased them and set my family on a wonderful journey.

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