Clinic for transgender and gender-variant children opens in Chicago

February 8, 2013

Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago unveiled a gender identity clinic on Friday, the first of its kind in the midwest, and among only a handful across the country.

The clinic will offer transgender and gender variant children a range of supportive services including psychology, endocrinology, and pediatrics.

Doctor Robert Garofalo is the Director of the Center for Gender Sexuality and HIV Prevention at Lurie. He says the medical field only recently started providing these services to transgender people.

 

“So, my job is to help families make the decision that is best for them,” said Garofalo.

Those choices could include hormonal treatment for children near or at puberty. It it could also include surgery for older teenagers and young adults, though the clinic hasn’t performed any surgeries yet.

David Bergner has been taking his 9-year-old daughter to the clinic. His child, born a boy, started wearing dresses and identifying as a girl. He was elated to find the clinic.

“This is an excellent thing, and I believe we will see more [clinics] in the future as more people come out of the shadows.” said Bergner.

While his daughter is too young to receive any medical interventions, Bergner said support, information, and acceptance is important. His daughter, who has struggled with anxiety, has improved after a single visit.

Christine Grost, 54, wishes such a clinic were available when she was a child.

“My life would have been completely different. I’ve had to build a life as a male and switching that now is hard,” Grost said.

Dr. Garofalo says the clinic hasn’t received any negative feedback, but expects they may as the clinic becomes more public.