Caitlyn Jenner On What Pediatricians Need To Be Doing For Trans People

Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images.
Gender transition is about more than physical reassignment, in fact, it doesn't have to involve any kind of physical change — which is why Caitlyn Jenner thinks that doctors should be paying more attention to the emotional repercussions of transitioning.

In a new interview with Stat News, Jenner discussed what doctors, particularly pediatricians, can be doing to help trans people.

"It’s not as much a physical health issue as it is an emotional issue," she told the site about transitioning. "Physically, we had it down pretty good as far as transitioning, to do it in a healthy way. It’s mostly the emotional scars that need to be healed that had festered for a long, long time."

The bigger issue, Jenner says, is taking care of the mental health effects of the transition process. Though Jenner says that she herself had access to doctors who had experience working with trans patients, she recognizes that not everyone has this privilege.

"That’s not the case for most doctors," she said. "Maybe this is the first time they’ve seen anybody who’s trans."

Indeed, trans people face many challenges in obtaining proper medical care, like finding an understanding doctor in a rural area, and facing laws and policies that deny them gender recognition in the first place. According to GLAAD, 19% of trans people report lacking any form of health insurance at all. And while there are doctors who do specialize in gender dysphoria, Jenner says that the medical field still has a ways to go to ensure better care and understanding for trans patients.

"The medical profession in general doesn’t understand it — and I understand that," she continued. "They don’t teach it in college. You’ve got to kind of learn it on your own."

Jenner believes that pediatricians in particular can have a big impact.

"You’ve got to get them while they’re young — around 16 — because that’s where the big suicide rate is. We need just to help explain this to doctors so they can put it on their websites."

And she's right — in one study of 55 trans youths, 25% reported past suicide attempts.

Jenner's message for doctors? "Do your homework. These kids are emotionally delicate. In some cases, even if you do everything right, you can still lose them."

If you are a trans person thinking about suicide or experiencing a crisis, please call the Trans Lifeline at 1-877-565-8860 for confidential support from other trans individuals.
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