A Letter from Dr. Rebecca Barbato:
I will never forget my first experience with a transgender patient. I was a few years into my practice and my 5-year-old patient’s mom shared with me her concern about his interest in “girls’ things” and pink things. Even that early in my practice, I remember being able to confidently reassure her that it was all “typical.” When she was still concerned 2 and 3 years later, I remember not really knowing what to tell her. When he was 9, he told his mom that he felt like he was really a girl and he wanted to dress like a girl. She didn’t know what to tell him; she wanted to support him and encourage him to feel comfortable, but she didn’t want him to be picked on or bullied at school.
I was at a total loss when she asked me for advice. I went to the library seeking information for her. I forwarded her all of the information from a segment I had seen on the Today show, about kids like him. More recently, I had a similar experience with another patient and I was struck by the significant number of resources now available. I referred this recent patient to the Gender & Sex Development Identity Program at Lurie Children’s Hospital.
As pediatricians and family medicine doctors, it is important that we are prepared to talk with families going through this experience. While I am thankful for the increase in resources available, I know that I need to learn more about this subject in order to be helpful to my patients and their families. I am looking forward to the October 25 Physicians’ Network presentation on Gender Identity Issues, knowing that I will leave much better equipped to support my patients and their families in the future.
The Lurie Children’s Hospital’s Gender & Sex Development Program provides a wide variety of services for families. Visit their website for details and resources.
If you are a physician practicing in Oak Park or River Forest, please join us at the October 25 Physicians Network presentation. Details to rsvp are here.
Dr. Rebecca Barbato
Loyola Family Care Center
Collaboration Physicians Network