Akron Children's Hospital is now seeing patients in a new program for Gender Affirming Medicine.
The program is based at the hospital's main campus in Akron. It's part of the Adolescent Medicine Department and was started to meet a community need.
"There are so many kids who are struggling with gender identity issues, and there was really nothing for them in the Akron area. They have to travel to Cleveland," said Dr. Stephen Sondick.
The doctor says puberty can be a stressful time for young patients, so one thing that can help is pubertal suppression. "In a way that can be reversed. It helps buy time so we can continue to assess their goals and where we would like to go moving forward."
Introduction to the program begins before the first in-person appointment at the hospital. Often that's to answer questions and offer support to the parents.
"They want what's best for their child. They love their child. They want to support their child and are looking for the tools to be able to do that," said Penny Daly, a program social worker.
The hospital team also includes a psychologist to help with individual cases and goals, which may include hormone treatments.
"We can do gender-affirming hormones which can help them have a body that's more in tune to the way that they feel," Dr. Sondick said.
The hospital says the goal is to provide a supportive environment to help youths during a crucial time in their physical and mental health development. So far, the program has attracted 60 patients.