Stanford Children’s Health has opened a clinic to serve transgender children and their families.
The Stanford Children’s Health Gender Clinic now provides hormonal, psycho-social, and gynecologic services for gender non-conforming youth in the Bay Area.
The clinic officially opened in Sunnyvale on July 1.
“In the Bay Area we’ve had an increased need for children who are gender non-conforming,” said Dr. Tandy Aye, Pediatric Endocrinologist at Stanford Children’s Health.
Aye began treating transgender children on her own 18 months ago. At the time, she had a dozen patients whom she would treat hormonally, but would have to refer patients to doctors outside of her practice for other necessary medical treatment.
Now, the Gender Clinic gives patients and their families a one-stop shop for multidisciplinary health. A pediatric endocrinologist, urologist, gynecologist, along with an adolescent medicine specialist and social worker all work together in the new clinic.
“It’s easier for the families just to come to one place and see everybody,” Aye said.
Hormone therapy can be part of care if requested by the patient and family, along with other options and resources as determined by doctors.
"There are usually two phases of hormone treatment," Aye said.
"One is to kind of stop puberty when puberty begins in young children. It's to kind of halt it so that the child doesn't experience the wrong puberty, the biological puberty, and it should be the one that they identify with."
The "halt" Aye says gives patients and their parents time to process what is happening and to continue to make decisions before the second round of hormones.
"Around age 16 and sometimes younger that's when what we call the cross-sex hormones get added into so they can make that transition," Aye said.
Aye had 12 to 15 patients when she started a year and a half ago. She now has more than 50 patients. Some are as young as four, and others are 19-years-old. The clinic can treat patients up to age 25.
“Each child is going to go through a gender journey and we are here to provide them with the psycho-social support and medical support,” Aye said.
Aye began working with transgender patients nearly three years ago when she learned about the population’s increased risk for suicide and depression. She wanted to help serve them and their families.
“I think what we offer is the support to one have the parents realize that we acknowledge this may be something the child is talking about, and give the parents a place to ask questions and give some normalcy that your child is not the only child.”
Majority of the patients are from the Bay Area, but some drive as long as seven hours to be treated.
Many of the services offered by the clinic are covered by insurance, thanks to the California Insurance Gender Nondiscrimination Act which prevents insurance companies from excluding medically-necessary gender health services.
Both Kaiser Permanente and UCSF have similar gender healthcare for children.
The clinic has a waiting list as they grow the number of patients incrementally. Gender-nonconforming youth and their families who are interested in learning more can call Stanford Children’s Health at 650-721-1811.