Dr. Kimberlee Roy, a clinical child and adolescent psychologist with UVM Medical Center’s Trans Youth Program, was the guest on “Vermont Edition” on Friday morning to discuss the status of gender-affirming procedures currently offered in the state.
The show is associated with Vermont Public Radio. The host was Connor Cyrus.
Gender-affirming care has been a controversial subject matter nationwide as numerous states grapple with legislation on procedures that involve irreversible drugs that impact puberty and other developments in youth.
At least 17 states have passed laws protecting children from such procedures. States including Vermont have passed laws to shield the providers of trans procedures from potential litigation.
A ‘full-bio-psychosocial assessment’
Roy described the program.
“The Transgender Youth Clinic is an outpatient program that we have where we see patients and children in adolescence who identify as transgender or nonbinary. They come in for an initial assessment with parents, with the individual, and we do a full-bio-psychosocial assessment, so that’s all the different areas of their lives,” Roy said.
Roy added that such assessments happen before a medical appointment happens.
When the host asked what a “bio-psychosocial assessment” means, Roy said it involves many aspects of a person’s body and mind.
“It means you are getting a picture of the whole person, not just a psychological assessment, where you’re just asking about their moods, or feelings or behaviors,” Roy said. “You’re looking at how are they are functioning physically, how are they functioning mentally, in school, family functioning, all of those different things to make sure that you know the total person as much as you can.”
Roy added: “We’ve had patients as young as 5 come in for those assessments.”
Clinicians typically see children closer to the age of puberty, and medical side of the clinic does not assess children until the age of puberty.
Roy added they are primarily looking for “an experience of gender dysphoria” that the child may have had. Questioned posed will inquire about the child’s “gender journey” and ask questions like “How did you first come to understand that your gender is different?”
‘Parents may not be ready’
While medical professionals may be prepared to work toward transition, Roy said parents often object.
“We look at family functioning. Kids and teens are actually usually looking for something specific. And parents may not be ready for that specific intervention,” Roy said.
The host asked how can parents can take the initiative if they suspect their child is transgender, and Roy responded,”If the child isn’t ready, often we suggest to parents that they can periodically ask, ‘Hey, are you OK with the pronouns you’re using right now? Do you want to switch them? Have you thought about your name? Is that an OK name for us to still call you?'”
Roy also discussed how gender-affirming drugs work.
“If a child or an adolescent who has gone into puberty wants to stop physical changes from happening, medical doctors will give them a puberty blocker, if that’s appropriate,” Roy said. “So what that does is it stops development of secondary sex characteristics. It basically stops testosterone or estrogen from being produced in the body and keeps you from going any further than you have.”
At least 13% detransition
According to a 2015 study of 17,151 trans-identified people from the U.S., de-transitioning does occur regularly — and the rate is likely larger than what is reported.
“The data is drawn from the US Transgender Survey of 2015 and only includes trans-identified individuals who temporarily detransitioned and thus excluded permanent detransitioners,” the report states.
The debate on social media about gender-affirming care continues to dominate. Christopher-Aaron Felker, who leads the GOP chapter for the City of Burlington, recently blasted attempts to transition kids.
— Christopher-Aaron Felker (@ChairmanCAP) June 9, 2023
It was noted at the start of the program that UVM is an underwriter of Vermont Public. The full interview and transcript can be found here.