Cedars-Sinai announced Wednesday that it has opened a clinic for children under 18 who are questioning their gender or experiencing gender dysphoria-marked incongruence and distress between their true gender identity and biological sex.

The Pediatric and Adolescent Gender Wellness Clinic helps children and their parents navigate options including medical transition or “blocking puberty,” in which a single toothpick-size implant in the arm allows children to put a pause on their puberty for anywhere from one to two years as they work through their true gender identity.

“We’re doing a pause on puberty, which is completely reversible and safe until the child is a little bit older,” said Dr. Paria Hassouri, a pediatrician specializing in the field of gender wellness. “When the child is older, they and their family can then decide whether to go forward with hormone therapy, such as estrogen and testosterone.”

The clinic also helps families with social support, especially for younger children who have not reached puberty but are feeling “gender-fluid.”

Once a child turns 18, their care is transferred to doctors at Cedars-Sinai that specialize in adult gender awareness, including those offering surgical transitions when appropriate.

“My advice to parents is to not hesitate or be scared about making that first appointment with someone who specializes in gender-diverse youth,” Hassouri said. “That first conversation is just about gathering information and knowledge, which makes all the difference for parents and their children.”

She said parental involvement for transgender and gender-diverse children and teens is very important, noting that those groups have a three-fold increased risk of suicide compared to their peers but that the risk decreases to that of their peers when they are supported by their families and able to find their true gender identity.

One of Hassouri’s three children came out as transgender at 13 1/2 years old, giving the doctor a personal reason for studying gender-affirming care.

“As I had to navigate these difficult decisions with my husband for my own teenager, I realized that it was really something that I felt passionate about, and that I wanted to help other families through this process as well,” she said. “Seeing my own daughter going from being depressed to really thriving, once she was able to live in her authentic gender, made me want to be able to help other teens do that as well.”

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