About the Gender and Sexuality Program

Exploring gender and sexuality is part of every child’s healthy development. For some children and youth, the sex they were assigned at birth does not match how they feel they connect with their gender, or their gender identity. Some children will clearly identify their gender as the opposite of the sex they were assigned at birth, while others may feel more in the middle when it comes to gender identity. These children can connect with identity terms such as transgender, gender fluid, gender non-binary, gender expansive, or many new terms that are emerging every day. When we say transgender, we are including all of these incredible children and youth.

Transgender children and youth can feel different, alone, misunderstood or unsupported, resulting in negative physical and emotional outcomes. Also, many transgender children and youth are fully supported by their parent, schools and churches, which results in healthy and happy families.

The Gender and Sexuality Development Program at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) can help families in all of these situations. We offer psychosocial and medical support for gender nonconforming, gender expansive and transgender children and youth up to age 21 and their families. Our goal is to support children, youth and their families so they can live healthy and happy lives.

Our team

Our multidisciplinary team, led by Nadia Dowshen, MD, and Linda Hawkins, PhD, MSEd, LPC, has cared for more than 700 families since the Gender Program was established in 2014. Many of our families come from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and New York, but we are also honored to support youth and their families from across the country and around the world.

To provide the best care for transgender youth and their families, our interdisciplinary team offers:

  • Comprehensive gender assessment
  • Gender affirming medical care
  • Monthly support groups
  • Insurance advocacy
  • Legal support
  • Lending library for parents, children and adolescents
  • Connections to local stylists and salon owners who are LGBTQ friendly
  • School, church, community, and healthcare provider trainings
  • Referrals for ongoing outpatient therapy and/or psychiatric treatment
  • Surgical referrals
  • Innovative research projects that will contribute to best practices in care

Innovative medical care

Our multidisciplinary team includes specialists in gender identity development from Social Work and Family Services, Adolescent Medicine, Endocrinology, and Behavioral Health. We work with your family to best meet the needs of your child or youth who is transgender or gender nonconforming.

Some of the services we provide include:

  • Comprehensive mental health and psychosocial assessments to evaluate for gender dysphoria and confirm the diagnosis if appropriate
  • Medical evaluation by pediatric endocrinologists for determination of appropriate timing for puberty suppression when indicated
  • Evaluation by adolescent medicine for gender-affirming medical care
  • Referrals for ongoing outpatient therapy and/or psychiatric treatment
  • Surgical referrals
  • Preparation for transition to adult medical care

Support services

Along with medical and psychological services, a large part of what the Gender and Sexuality Development Program does is connect transgender children and adolescents and their families with resources — at the Hospital and in the community — that support and affirm the child.

We offer:

  • Monthly support groups for children, teens, parents/guardians and siblings
  • Legal support for name changes, access issues and more
  • Insurance advocacy to ensure your child or teen can access the medical and psychosocial services they need
  • Connections to local primary care providers — including pediatricians in the CHOP Care Network — who are knowledgeable about gender identity development and will serve as clinical champions in supporting these youth in the primary care setting
  • Partnerships with local organizations, schools and religious institutions to ensure supportive community environments for children, adolescents and their families
  • A lending library of books, videos and other informational materials for parents, children and adolescents
  • Connections to local stylists and salon owners who are LGBTQ friendly

Education and training

The Gender Program provides consultation and training for providers and organizations interested in learning how to better serve the needs of transgender youth and their families.

We have developed educational and professional training programs for medical students and other trainees, general pediatricians and subspecialists, school educators and administrators, religious leaders, and community support staff. For more information, see our Professional Resources.

Groundbreaking research

At Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, we believe ongoing research is critical to improving health outcomes for all children. We are honored to join in this emerging area of health outcomes research for our families to establish the best practice care guidelines and create innovative solutions in treatment.

We have conducted and are working on a number of groundbreaking research and quality improvement projects for this population that has been determined to be a priority by the National Institutes of Health and the Institute of Medicine and the leadership at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Scheduling an appointment

To request a new patient appointment with the Gender and Sexuality Development Program, please call 267-426-5980 or email genderclinic@email.chop.edu.

Families will be contacted to complete an initial patient intake, which can be provided by phone or email.

After the initial intake, you may request additional resources. We can provide book recommendations, support group referrals, and mental health referrals.

NOTE: At this time, the program is unable to provide ongoing outpatient therapy. However, we have an extensive list of gender competent and supportive providers. We can make referrals during intake and/or throughout our assessment process.

Learn about what to expect at your child’s assessment and first medical appointment.