phoenix children's
Phoenix Children’s Hospital Offers ‘Gender-Affirming Care’ for Children

August 18, 2022

By Corinne Murdock |

Phoenix Children’s Hospital’s (PCH) treatment for gender dysphoria in children is “gender-affirming care,” a euphemism for medical and surgical procedures to transition genders. Due to SB1138 which banned gender transition surgeries for minors earlier this year, PCH maintains its hormonal and therapy treatments but refers patients elsewhere for surgeries.

PCH asserts that they are the only children’s provider in Arizona with a comprehensive gender transition program. They assert on their website that it is lifesaving medical care. 

PCH refers to gender dysphoric minors as “gender-expansive children,” though they offer two other nuanced terms to describe varying degrees of gender dysphoria. Those who “express a wider, more flexible range of gender identity and/or expression than typically associated with their sex assigned at birth” are considered gender-expansive, whereas those who are merely exploring and discovering gender identities are considered “gender questioning youth” and those who identify as a gender other than their own are considered “transgender youth.”

It appears that PCH’s adoption of the term “gender expansive” occurred in the last few years. As late as 2019, PCH referred to gender dysphoria as “gender dysmorphia.”

For a girl desiring to become a boy, gender-affirming procedures may include a testosterone prescription, hysterectomy, mastectomy, and metoidioplasty. For a boy, this may include an estrogen prescription, breast mammoplasty, orchiectomy, and vaginoplasty. Prepubescent children may be given puberty blockers. There’s emerging evidence that these procedures aren’t as irreversible as first thought, and appear to cause adverse health effects.

PCH offers hormonal and therapeutic services to children through their Gender Support Program. They also offer to assist with a minor’s identity transition for school and identifying documents, as well as their legal name change.

PCH told The Arizona Republic earlier this year that a child being below the age of consent doesn’t impact their services. Rather, they said that they allowed parents to make the decision on behalf of their children. 

The PCH Gender Transition Program team members include psychologist Jenna Rudo-Stern, endocrinologist Reeti Chawla, adolescent medicine physician Veenod Chulani, and Gisel Trevino-Martinez, Patrick Goodman, Andrew Medina, Ijeoma Ogbuchiekwe, and Amira El-Ahmadiyyah. 

Chulani is the chief of PCH’s adolescent medicine division. He created the gender transition program. 

According to PCH, their Gender Support professionals train others outside the hospital through local, regional, and national lectures and workshops. PCH also provides referrals to peer support programs: One N Ten, Arizona Trans Youth and Parent Organization (AZTYPO), Gender Proud Patient and Family Advisory Council, and Transfamilies.

Arizona Department of Education (ADE) Superintendent Kathy Hoffman is a supporter of AZTYPO.

The Gender Proud Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC) is made up of parents who had their gender dysphoric children undergo PCH’s gender transition procedures. 

One of PCH’s widely-shared cases is of a gender dysphoric girl, Sheila, who underwent procedures at PCH to become “Luke.”

The Gender Proud PFAC (source: Phoenix Children’s Hospital website)

The supplemental resources that PCH offers are links to the Genderbread Person, a pronoun guide from the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN), a Gender Support Plan from Gender Spectrum, and information on how to change a child’s legal name and gender in government records. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

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