The UVM Medical Center is planning to start a new clinic to help transgender children and teens.
As part of the UVM Children’s Specialty Center, the clinic will be a collection of doctors, social workers, coordinators, mental health providers and fertility specialists to provide support for transgender youth, associate pediatric professor Martina Drawdy said.
Drawdy and others involved with the program are currently working with the Medical Center and Children’s Hospital along with other organizations devoted to transgender research and treatment in children for funding, Drawdy said.
Funding is primarily needed to pay new doctors, specialists and social workers, she said.
“Funding is not as simple as it sounds; the ideal world and real world are different,” Drawdy said. “Even just getting a social worker or coordinator is complicated; we have to find funding and go through a lot of steps to make this happen.”
Once they’ve gotten funding, Drawdy said she hopes the clinic can open within the next six months to a year from now.
The children who will benefit from the clinic are those who
feel the genitalia they were born with does not correctly identify their sex, Drawdy said.
The psychological support the clinic will provide is key for these patients to explore what gender they feel they are, she said.
The confusion surrounding one’s identity as a young child can be unhealthy, making therapy an important part of treating adolescents who identify as transgender, Drawdy said.
Drawdy’s role in the program will be helping kids who haven’t reached the age of puberty so they do not continue to develop towards the gender they don’t identify with, she said.
“I start with the pubertal blockage to prevent these chang- es, and then later on we can give them growth sex hormones so they can start developing secondary sexual characteristics of the gender they identify with,” she said.
Kids who have already start- ed puberty or passed puberty can still benefit, Drawdy said.
“There are kids who are full grown in puberty who still can benefit from the pubertal block- age even if they are in puberty just to put them in the limbo stage,” she said.
Senior Krista Cantrell said she supports the opening of a transgender clinic near UVM.
“I hope that UVM understands how beneficial this will be to a lot of people, and that the clinic gets the funding they need to make a difference,” Cantrell said.
This new clinic will benefit people who are coming out at a young age, said Becky Swem, the Education and Outreach Coordinator for the LGBTQA Center.
“I think just having the resource available for the community is really beneficial,” Swem said.
The LGBTQA Center offers training for staff and student groups who want to be more inclusive, and connects people to health-care and support services, she said.
“There aren’t many providers for transgender youths,” Swem said. “There are just some services that aren’t here.”
Swem said she believes many people from around the state will come to the clinic.