Lurie LGBT center launching Gender Identity Clinic

(via Windy City Times)

Lurie LGBT center launching Gender Identity Clinic

Chicago will soon be home to one of the only medical clinics for transgender and gender-variant children in the country.

The Gender, Sexuality and HIV Prevention Center based out of Lurie Children’s Hospital is launching a Gender Identity Clinic, filling a major gap in gender-affirming care in Chicago.

The clinic, which is up and running but has yet to officially launch, is the first of its kind in the city and one of few resources for gender-variant kids younger than 13. Through the clinic, children dealing with gender identity issues will have access to everything from endocrinology to psychology

“As a unit, the family is not always ready to embrace terms like ‘LGBT’ or ‘transgender,'” said Dr. Rob Garofalo, director of the Center. “I think coming to Lurie allows people to come to a place where services are hopefully increasingly culturally competent, without threatening the developmental trajectory that these families have to go through.”

Garofalo created the clinic out of a patchwork of specialists already working within Lurie, a move that both has both staffed the clinic and furthered understanding about transgender lives within Lurie, he said. The Center will also employ a psychologist and a social worker.

In past years, Chicago families with transgender kids often found medical and mental health services piecemeal. While many of the city’s LGBT organizations offer youth services, most of those services are designed for kids ages 13 and older.

Some families flew to Boston Children’s Hospital or Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, which both have gender clinics for children. But for families without the time or means to travel, finding specialists that understood gender issues and kids presented a serious challenge.

“This is probably the most obvious fill in the gap role for Lurie,” said Garofalo. “This really should be taken on by an academic institution like Lurie because we’re dealing with children from early childhood through adolescence. So I think there needs to be a lot of careful deliberation around childhood issues of development that I think a place like Lurie is well-equipped to handle.”

The clinic is already seeing 30 families from throughout the Midwest, Garofalo said. It will officially launch later this year.

For more information on the Gender Identity Clinic, Center for Gender, Sexuality and HIV Prevention and other new programs, pick up the print edition of Windy City Times Feb. 13.

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