Shifts in Gender-Related Medical Requests by Transgender and Gender-Diverse Adolescents

J Adolesc Health. 2023 Mar;72(3):428-436. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2022.10.020. Epub 2022 Dec 17.


Purpose: Gender-affirming hormones and/or surgeries seeking to change the body can have potentially lasting effects. Changes in requests for these therapies among gender-diverse youth are not well-understood. The study aim is to characterize factors associated with shifts in gender-related medical requests.

Methods: This mixed-methods study used retrospective chart review and qualitative interviews with clinicians. Of 130 youth receiving clinical gender care at Children's National Hospital, 68 met inclusion criteria. Qualitative interview analysis was performed to identify patterns and themes around shifts in gender-related medical requests over time. Statistical analysis employed chi-square and t-tests to compare characteristics in the shift versus no-shift groups and kappa statistics to calculate qualitative coding agreement.

Results: Of the 68 youth followed over time (mean age 15.11 years, 47% autistic, 22% nonbinary), 20 (29%) reported a shift in request. No significant differences were found by age, autism status, or designated sex at birth. More youth with shifts were nonbinary (p = .012). Six shift profiles were identified from qualitative interviews with excellent reliability (κ = 0.865). Four of the profiles reflect shifts in request prior to starting treatment (85% sample); two involved shifts after commencing treatment (15%). The most common profile reflected a medical request that was made, withdrawn, and re-requested (45%).

Discussion: Shifts in gender-affirming medical requests by gender-diverse youth may not be uncommon during the adolescent's gender discernment process, and may more likely occur among nonbinary youth. Many individuals who experience shifts away from medical treatment may later resume the request.

Keywords: Adolescence; Gender diverse; Gender dysphoria; Gender incongruence; Gender-affirming hormones; Gender-affirming surgery; Transgender.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Gender Identity
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Transgender Persons*
  • Transsexualism*