Stories about: transgender

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.

Read Full Story

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.

Read Full Story

Does the medical community do enough to reach out to LGBT youth?

Sexual minority youth are nine times more likely to harbor suicidal thoughts than their counterparts

Adolescence can be a difficult time, even for teenagers who seem extremely well-adjusted. Physical and hormonal changes are hard enough to deal with, but when you add feelings of isolation and loneliness to the mix, it can make the whole process that much worse. Sadly this is reality for many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) teens. But a new study in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing shows positive attitudes from family members towards LGBT teens reduces their risk for depression, suicidal thoughts, substance abuse and often results in the formation of healthier relationships in adulthood.

Sounds like good— if not a tad obvious— information for parents of LGBT kids, but as pointed out by Scott Leibowitz, MD, of Children’s Hospital Boston’s Department of Psychiatry, it’s important knowledge for any adult who interacts with kids, not just the parents of openly gay or transgender children.

Read Full Story

In honor of Transgender Remembrance Day

The following was written by the father of a transgender child. His child has seen specialists at Children’s Hospital Boston and the process has drastically changed his views on family and acceptance. Please read their story, as well as his reflections on parenting a transgender child.

Today is Transgender Remembrance Day. A few years ago, if you asked me what this day represents, I would have said I didn’t even know what transgender means, never mind that there’s a whole day dedicated to the memory of transgender people who’ve been victimized by hate crimes. I may have been unaware of these issues back then, but I’m a different person now. Since opening up about my daughter Sylvia’s experiences as a transgender tween, my eyes have been opened to many issues concerning the transgender community; some good, some not.

The other night I had one of those “not so good” moments. As I was tucking Sylvia in for bed, she took my hand and told me she had something to tell me. “Daddy, I’m working on a project for Transgender Remembrance Day,” she said. “Did you know people are being murdered and raped because they’re transgender?”

Read Full Story