Healthcare Utilization by Transgender/Gender Non-Conforming Youth: Same or Different
Than Cisgender Youth?
LewisFirst, MD, MA, Editor in Chief, Pediatrics
Helping all adolescents feel welcome and safe in a primary health care setting is
certainly something we strive for, but when a teen is transgender/gender non-conforming
(TGNC), they may not feel that their medical home is prepared to deal with their health
concerns, resulting in fewer visits than teens who may be cisgender. To help understand
if differences do exist and what we can do about them, Rider et al. (10.1542/peds.2017-1683) looked at data from the 2016 Minnesota Student Survey involving almost 81,000 9th and 11th graders with 2.7% or 2168 self-reporting they were TGNC. Students also shared four
health status measures in regard to their physical and mental health and three care
utilization measures. The results sadly show that TGNC teens self-reported poorer
health status and lower rates of health maintenance visits.
Why? We asked Dr. Daniel Shumer, (10.1542/peds.2017-4079) endocrinologist and specialist in care of TGNC youth at the University of Michigan,
to share his thoughts on the findings in this study in an accompanying commentary.
Dr. Shumer offers insightful comments regarding what we can learn from the self-report
of these teens such as the way they view themselves as not just with a binary view
of one gender or another but on a continuum of genders. He also reiterates the importance
of TGNC teens having a medical home to help they and their families build the strengths
and resiliency needed so these adolescents don’t just survive but thrive. Reading
the findings in the study and Dr. Shumer’s commentary will go a long way to helping
to reduce the health care disparities that exist for the TGNC population and improve
the overall health and well-being for a population that needs just as much if not
more strength building than their cisgender peers.