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Progression of Gender Dysphoria in Children and Adolescents: A Longitudinal Study

The progression of gender-expansive behavior to gender dysphoria and to gender-affirming hormonal treatment (GAHT) in children and adolescents is poorly understood. A cohort of 958 gender-diverse (GD) children and adolescents who did not have a gender dysphoria-related diagnosis (GDRD) or GAHT at index were identified. Rates of first GDRD and first GAHT prescription were compared across demographic groups. Overall, 29% of participants received a GDRD and 25% were prescribed GAHT during the average follow-up of 3.5 years (maximum 9 years). Compared with youth assigned male sex at birth, those assigned female sex at birth were more likely to receive a diagnosis and initiate GAHT with hazard ratio (95% confidence interval) estimates of 1.3 (1.0-1.7), and 2.5 (1.8-3.3), respectively. A progression to diagnosis was more common among those aged ≥15 years at initial presentation compared with those aged 10 to 14 years and those aged 3 to 9 years (37% vs 28% vs 16%, respectively). By using the youngest group as a reference, the adjusted hazard ratios (95% confidence interval) for a GDRD were 2.0 (1.3-3.0) for age 10 to 14 years and 2.7 (1.8-3.9) for age ≥15 years. Racial and ethnic minorities were less likely to receive a diagnosis or be prescribed GAHT. This study characterized the progression of GD behavior in children and adolescents. Less than one-third of GD youth receive an eventual GDRD, and approximately one-quarter receive GAHT. Female sex at birth, older age of initial GD presentation to medical care, and non-Hispanic white race and ethnicity increased the likelihood of receiving diagnosis and treatment.

Authors: Wagner, Stephanie; Panagiotakopoulos, Leonidas; Nash, Rebecca; Bradlyn, Andrew; Getahun, Darios; Lash, Timothy L; Roblin, Douglas; Silverberg, Michael J; Tangpricha, Vin; Vupputuri, Suma; Goodman, Michael

Pediatrics. 2021 07;148(1). Epub 2021-06-07.

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