Timely Intervention Can Help Transgender Children

Timely Intervention Can Help Transgender ChildrenTimely Intervention Can Help Transgender Children

Hormone levels of transgender youth are consistent with the gender they were assigned at birth, a new study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health has revealed.

“We’ve now put to rest the residual belief that transgender experience is a result of a hormone imbalance,” says study author Dr. Johanna Olson of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA). “It’s not.”

The study conducted by Dr. Olson and colleagues is concerned with assessing the safety and effectiveness of treatment to help transgender patients bring their bodies closer in alignment to their gender identity.

Children who have reached puberty can be treated with gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) analogs - synthetic hormones that suppress those produced by the body during puberty in order to delay physical changes to the body.

Such treatment is sought following the development of gender dysphoria - a sense of distress and anxiety that can occur when an individual feels dissonance between their gender identity and the sex they were assigned at birth. More and more young people are seeking treatment for this condition every year.

“Although transgender youth are known to be at high risk for depression, anxiety, and suicidal tendencies, there are no data available describing the physical and psychosocial characteristics of transgender adolescents seeking sex reassignment in the United States,” the authors said, reports Medical News Today.

To amend this, the researchers enrolled 101 transgender participants aged 12-24 years old for the study. Of these, 51.5% were assigned “male” at birth and identify as transfeminine and 48.5% were assigned “female” at birth and identify as transmasculine.

After measuring a number of physiological parameters, the researchers discovered that the participants’ hormone levels were in line with the normal ranges of the same assigned sex nontransgender youth population. Transmasculine participants had the same average hormone ranges as cisgender females and transfeminine participants had the same as cisgender males.


Researchers noted that many of the participants were overweight or obese, leading them to hypothesize that transgender individuals might use increased body fat to hide undesirable physical features.

Researchers found that 35% of the participants reported symptoms of depression and more than half had thoughts about suicide - significantly higher than the prevalence among general youth.

On average, the participants identified a discrepancy with their assigned gender at the age of 8. They did not tell their families until reaching, on average, the age of 17 years.

“Considering that transgender youth in this sample did not disclose their authentic gender to their families until 10 years after discovery on average, it might not be surprising that many are using maladaptive coping mechanisms to manage such a profound undisclosed element of their core selves,” the authors said.

The prevalence of mental health problems among transgender youth indicates that timely and appropriate intervention could be hugely beneficial to this group.