© 2019 The Kelsey Coalition

The Rapidly Growing Medicalization of Children and Young People

Data on the number of young people in the US who identify as transgender are incomplete. Available surveys and observational reports reveal exponential increases in schools, clinics, and universities. Research is urgently needed to understand this rapidly growing phenomenon that is becoming increasingly common throughout the US and many countries worldwide. Of grave and urgent concern: these new identities are being quickly and irreversibly medicalized at increasingly younger ages.


Recent Surveys:

CDC Survey of US High School Students (2019):  Population-based survey data from ten state and nine urban school districts found that an average of 1.8% of high school students identify as transgender


Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey (2017): Surveys of Maine high school students found 1.5% identify as transgender and 1.6% of students were unsure of their gender identification


Dane County, Wisconsin Youth Assessment Survey (2018): Seventeen public school districts and one private high school participated in the Dane County Youth Assessment.


Minnesota Student Survey of 9th and 11th graders (2016)

  • 80,929 students: 2.7% TGNC (transgender or gender non-conforming)
    • 40,096 natal females total: 3.6% TGNC (1457)
    • 40,698 natal males total: 1.7% TGNC (684)


Portland, OR Public School Survey (2016): 3% of middle and high school students in Portland public schools identified as transgender


GLAAD “Accelerating Acceptance” (2017): Online survey conducted by Harris Poll for GLAAD (November 2-4, 2016) found that 12% of 2,037 adults ages 18-34 identify as transgender or gender nonconforming


International Data

International data show exponential increase in young people seeking treatment at pediatric gender clinics in recent years, with an over-representation of females. In the UK, where the number of girls referred for treatment rose by more than 4000% in less than a decade, an investigation has been ordered.


Higher Prevalence Observed at Individual Schools and Colleges

Officials from the St. Johns County, Florida school district stated that “they were aware of 16 transgender students in their schools, including five at the high school. Anecdotal observations by students indicate the ubiquity of transgender and nonbinary identities on many college campuses.


Rise in US Pediatric Gender Clinics and Gender Identity-Based Medical Practices

There were no pediatric gender clinics in the US until Dr. Norman Spack opened the first pediatric gender clinic at Boston Children’s Hospital in 2007.  


In 2013, Chicago’s Lurie Children’s Hospital, had 500 patients and a four-month long waiting list only four years after it opened.


By 2014, there were 24 pediatric gender clinics in the US.


Johanna Olson-Kennedy, MD has been providing medical intervention for youth and young adults for the past eight years at the Center for TransYouth Health and Development at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, the largest gender clinic in the world



  • In 2017, Olson-Kennedy stated: In LA County alone, there are potentially 23,000  trans/GNC youth, going by statistics. I have the largest gender clinic in the world, and yet we only have room for 900 kids, a tiny fraction of that number. There has to be more supply, and there has to be more capacity. We have to teach more professionals to do this work well, and with great consciousness, thoughtfulness, and compassion.


More and more major hospitals are creating special programs to medically treat children’s identities, such as the new clinic at Johns Hopkins Medical Center that opened in 2018


In addition to the hospital clinics, there are countless private medical practices and programs that provide similar medical interventions for children.


Children Identities are Medicalized at Increasingly Younger Ages

The age at which children are medicalized is getting younger. Puberty-blocking drugs are routinely given to pre-pubescent children. Girls as young as 12 are injected with testosterone, while teen boys are treated with feminizing hormones.


The rate of "gender-confirming" surgeries are increasing each year and are being performed on minor children:

A gender therapist with the Kaiser Permanente healthcare organization in Oakland, California admits:  “In terms of masculinizing top surgery, I think 12 is the youngest who’s had surgery through our program” while vaginoplasties are performed on chidren as young as 16. 


Taxpayers are Funding Pediatric Medical Interventions through NIH Studies and Medicaid

Taxpayer dollars have been used to fund the $5.7 million NIH observational study, The Impact of Early Medical Treatment in Transgender Youth, which is treating children with puberty-blocking drugs and hormones for a non-medical condition. Those as young as eight are eligible for cross-sex hormones. The Kelsey Coalition filed a formal request with the Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP) on April 5 calling for an immediate moratorium pending an investigation.


Taxpayers are also funding these medical interventions through Medicaid, which covers the medical transition of children in several states.


The Age of Medical Consent in Oregon is 15

In Oregon, where the age of medical consent is 15 years old, minors can obtain gender-confirming” hormones and surgeries under the Oregon Health Plan, which is also covered by Medicaid.


The Full Extent of Medical Harms is Unknown

The number and ages at which children are being hormonally treated are unknown. These hormonal treatments on children are experimental. The medical literature on the health effects of hormonal interventions “in the pediatric/adolescent population is completely lacking.” The drugs used are based on low-quality evidence, or no evidence at all.


A recent large cohort study, which tracked nearly 4,000 transgender-identifying adults receiving hormone therapy for an average of eight years, found that women's risk of heart attack tripled while men's risk of developing venous thromboembolism became five times greater. The full extent of the medical harms of hormonal treatments -- prescribed for lifetime usage -- may not be realized for many years.


The total number of surgeries performed on minor children, and the ages at when these surgeries are performed, are unknown. The only long-term follow-up study among adults who surgically transitioned found substantially higher rates of overall mortality, suicide, suicide attempts, and psychiatric hospitalizations. We simply don't know the future outcomes for children.


Inexplicably, this medical scandal has not been investigated by the US mainstream media.


Very Young Children May Soon Be On the Path to Early Medicalization


A prominent gender clinician claims that babies send pre-verbal "gender messages."She cites examples of girls who pull barrettes our of their hair, or boys who unsnap their onesies to make a "dress, as evidence of innate "gender identities."


Gender clinicians now recommend that toddlers socially transition so they not only appear, but are treated, as if they were actually the opposite sex.


The youngest patient at the Center for TransYouth Health and Development at Children’s Hospital is only three years old.