At Children’s Minnesota, we recognize the unique impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on transgender and gender-diverse youth and families. Feeling connected to peers through school groups and youth drop-in centers is often crucial for LGBTQ young people. Sometimes, these places are the only chance for LGBTQ youth to fully be themselves and feel affirmed.
When access to those programs and activities is limited or cut off, that can have a significant impact on their overall well-being.
How COVID-19 is impacting transgender and gender-diverse kids and teens
The COVID-19 outbreak has led communities to close schools, encourage social distancing and other strategies in order to reduce the spread of the virus. The social isolation that results from being at home and lack of connection to friends and other important figures is stressful, particularly if their families are not supportive of their gender identity.
Issues for LGBTQ youth at home
Did you know? About 50-60 percent of LGBTQ youth do not feel supported by families in their identities, and they may hear negative comments about their identities in their homes. In addition, LGBTQ+ youth may not have a home, as they are 120 percent more likely to experience homelessness than their straight and cisgender peers.
LGBTQ young people and depression
The above factors combined with the fact that transgender youth are far more likely than their non-transgender peers to experience depression — nearly four times the risk, according to one study (Reisner 2015), making the social isolation that can come with “shelter in place” and other physical distancing tools during the COVID-19 pandemic even harder for LGBTQ youth.
The difference support makes
For transgender children and youth, family and community support makes all the difference. Although research has repeatedly found that transgender children experience mental health problems, including higher rates of suicidality, a recent study found that transgender children whose families affirmed their gender identity were as psychologically healthy as their non-transgender peers (Olson 2016).
Where can LGBTQ youth turn for help?
Helping LGBTQ youth feel seen, heard and loved during this time will involve reminding them of supportive social connections. Also, parents can make an extra effort to check in with their LGBTQ kids and remind them of their love and worth.
How can Children’s Minnesota help LGBTQ youth?
At Children’s Minnesota, we created the video “You are amazing because…” to remind LGBTQ kids why they are amazing and let them know they are loved and supported by our Children’s Minnesota family.
May 20, 2020 marks one year since we opened our Gender Health program at Children’s Minnesota. Now more than ever, we remain committed to serving as an essential medical partner and resource for transgender youth and families.
Children’s Minnesota Gender Health program is making a difference in our community
Our Gender Health program has officially been open for one year on May 20, 2020. This is an accomplishment we are extremely proud of and we hope to continue to help transgender and gender diverse youth and their families for years to come.
Our Gender Health program by the numbers
- Total new patients seen: 182
- Total appointments: 380
- Total calls into the program: 939
- Average number of calls per month: 68
- Total clinic days: 21 (two Mondays a month) and we saw an average of:
- 18-19 total patients each clinic day.
- 8-9 new patients each clinic day.
Patient and family responses to our Gender Health Program
Children’s Minnesota patient families have expressed their gratitude for the importance of our Gender Health program and what it has done for their children and their families. Here are just a few words from our grateful patient families:
- “To be able to access this environment is great, thank you for the difference you have made for us and other families.”
- “Very happy to have the Gender Health clinic for our child. Knowledgeable, helpful and caring.”
- “The doctor knew what she was talking about and gave us a lot of new information.”
- “The staff and doctor were fabulous at using my child’s name and pronoun.”
More about our Gender Health program on WCCO
Dr. Goepferd, director of Medical Education and medical director of Gender Health at Children’s Minnesota, talked with WCCO about how COVID-19 is hitting LGBTQ youth particularly hard.