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J Adolesc Health. 2019 Aug;65(2):274-279. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2019.02.018. Epub 2019 Jun 10.

"I Couldn't See a Downside": Decision-Making About Gender-Affirming Hormone Therapy.

Author information

1
University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, Ohio.
2
University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, Ohio; Division of Pulmonary Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio.
3
Department of Family Social Science, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
4
University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, Ohio; Division of Endocrinology, Department of Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio.
5
University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, Ohio; Division of Adolescent and Transition Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio.
6
University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, Ohio; James M. Anderson Center for Health Systems Excellence, Department of Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio. Electronic address: ellen.lipstein@cchmc.org.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

The aim of the article was to understand adolescents' and parents' decision-making process related to gender-affirming hormone therapy (GAHT).

METHODS:

We conducted qualitative semistructured interviews with transgender adolescents who began testosterone for GAHT in the prior year and the parents of such adolescents. Questions focused on decision-making roles, steps in the decision process, and factors considered in the decision. Participants used pie charts to describe the division of responsibility for the decision. All interviews were coded by at least two members of the research team with disagreements resolved through discussion. Thematic analysis was used to analyze the data.

RESULTS:

Seventeen adolescents and 13 parents were interviewed (12 dyads). The process of deciding about GAHT involves a series of small conversations, typically with the adolescent advocating to start treatment and the parent feeling hesitant. In most cases, after seeking information from the Internet, healthcare providers and personal contacts move toward acceptance and agree to start treatment. Although adolescents have some short-term concerns, such as about needles, parents' concerns relate more to long-term risks. Ultimately, for both parents and adolescents, the benefits of treatment outweigh any concerns, and they are in agreement about the goals of personal confidence, comfort in one's body and happiness.

CONCLUSIONS:

To the extent that the decision about GAHT is a medical decision, the decision process is similar to others. However, decisions about GAHT are much more about gender identity than medical risks, suggesting that interventions based in a medical framework may not aid in supporting decision-making.

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