By Elise Most
The new Stanford Children’s Health Gender Clinic, which opened in Sunnyvale this summer, brings psychosocial and medical care for transgender children and their families, all under one roof.
Tandy Aye, associate professor of pediatrics at Stanford Children’s Health, believes this type of support is important given that transgender children suffer higher rates of depression and suicide than their gender-conforming peers.
“As [children] go through this gender journey, there’s a lot of aspects of support that you need from different subspecialists for each of these children, and a lot of [patients] have a fear of going to the medical field,” she said to NBC Bay Area.
Before the clinic opened, Aye had no choice but to send patients to different health centers if their needs lay outside of her practice. By eliminating the need for time-consuming, stressful visits to multiple clinics, the Gender Clinic aims to give patients easier and less anxiety-ridden access to essential medical care.
The clinic currently serves patients ages 4 to 19 but can accommodate patients up to the age of 25. Although the clinic has a wait list, it is slowly increasing patient capacity to meet the Bay Area’s growing need for support for gender-nonconforming children and teens.
According to Aye, some families drive seven hours for the clinic’s specialized care. Her patients have more than tripled in number within the last year and a half, since she began treating transgender youth on her own.
Patients have access to a pediatric endocrinologist, urologist, gynecologist, social worker and adolescent medicine specialist, and they may request hormonal treatment if they so choose. Insurance covers many of the Gender Clinic’s services under the California Insurance Gender Nondiscrimination Act.
Hormonal treatment includes two phases. The first phase begins at the onset of puberty and counteracts typical biological development.
“It’s to kind of halt it so that child doesn’t experience the wrong puberty,” Aye said.
After a period without treatment, during which patients have time to consider their options, they may proceed to phase two, in which they receive cross-sex hormones.
According to Aye, the clinic’s team understands the journey transgender youth undertake and gives them a safe space to receive the care they need.
She added, “[Patients know,] ‘I can be taken care of here because they’re respectful of my preferred name, preferred pronouns and who I am.'”