Purpose: Despite international guidelines being available, not all gender clinics are able to face gender dysphoric (GD) youth population needs specifically. This is particularly true in Italy. Centers offering specialized support are relatively few and a commonly accepted Italian approach to GD youth has still not been defined. The aim of the present Position Statement is to develop and adhere to Italian guidelines for treatment of GD adolescents, in line with the "Dutch Approach", the Endocrine Society (ES), and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) guidelines.
Methods: An in-depth brainstorming on the application of International guidelines in the Italian context was performed by several dedicated professionals.
Results: A staged approach, combining psychological support as well as medical intervention is suggested. In the first phase, individuals requesting medical help will undergo a psycho-diagnostic procedure to assess GD; for eligible adolescents, pubertal suppression should be made available (extended diagnostic phase). Finally, from the age of 16 years, cross-sex hormonal therapy can be added, and from the age of 18 years, surgical sex reassignment can eventually be performed.
Conclusions: The current inadequacy of Italian services offering specialized support for GD youth may lead to negative consequences. Omitting or delaying treatment is not a neutral option. In fact, some GD adolescents may develop psychiatric problems, suicidality, and social marginalization. With access to specialized GD services, emotional problems, as well as self-harming behavior, may decrease and general functioning may significantly improve. In particular, puberty suppression seems to be beneficial for GD adolescents by relieving their acute suffering and distress and thus improving their quality of life.