Every child has a favorite thing. Some find comfort in the softness of a blanket, while others prefer snuggling a stuffed animal. Whatever the soothing item is, every parent cringes at the thought of misplacing it.
Michelle Arria remembers the day her 18-month-old son Anthony James (AJ) visited Boston Children’s Hospital for testing. It was the day his favorite blanket was lost.
“Testing was about to begin, and I went to get AJ’s blanket, and it was nowhere to be found. He was screaming crying, and I became hysterical,” Michelle recalls.
A staff member stepped into action.
In 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.
Preschoolers are drawn to play. Summertime sprinkler fun, snow-bound sledding and endless forms of indoor, outdoor horseplay are part of a youngster’s childhood fabric.
But for Matthew Dolan, carefree play was absent from much of his early years.
As a toddler and young boy, Matthew didn’t feel well and was much smaller than his active peers. He often experienced great pain—to the point of tears—when lying down, had numerous urinary tract infections (UTIs), ear infections and bouts of strep throat.
“I was sick all the time and stayed home from school frequently,” says Matthew, now 19. “I was tiny and not as active as other kids my age. They were larger, faster and more skilled at games we played.”
Matthew’s mother, Martha, knew her son was fighting a much larger medical issue. But Matthew’s pediatrician could not pinpoint the source of the problem.
“I felt very helpless since I knew something was wrong but didn’t know what was causing his pain,” says Martha.
Whether or not you have your child circumcised is a deeply personal choice and deciding if its right for your family will require you to consider many factors. In addition to the personal, cultural and religious aspects associated with the decision, you may have medical questions as well. The following are answers to many of the most common questions that Richard Yu, MD, PhD, of Boston Children’s Hospital’s Department of Urology hears when counseling families on this matter. …