IN Kansas City: Breaking the Silence, How Shame and Fear Are Killing Our LGBTQIA Youth and What We Can Do About It
I’ve never written about this before, but one of the greatest heartbreaks of my life was losing a young family member. I had known him since he was about 4 or 5 years old. When I married my husband and we had our first two daughters, he was a constant presence in our lives, often watching our young toddlers for us. He brought them and us so much joy.
He was full of life, smart, curious, handsome, engaging, and empathetic. What I didn’t know at the time was that he was also suffering from depression. In today’s terminology, I now understand that he was gender non-conforming. He may have been what we now call gender fluid.
Even now, I don’t know whether his death was a suicide or an accidental overdose. What I do know is that the morning after his death, he had been scheduled to be admitted for treatment to help deal with his depression. He never made it. He was 22 years old.
The question becomes how can we each be an ally to help combat this loss of life and epidemic of violence while supporting our LGBTQIA youth?
At Children’s Mercy, we have the Gender Pathway Services Clinic, lovingly called the GPS Clinic. This clinic was formally created in 2014 as a multi-disciplinary resource for trans youth as they navigate the process of their gender identity development. It provides interdisciplinary, family-centered services for transgender, gender-variant, and gender-questioning children.
The clinic is holistic, in that it provides services from developmental and behavioral health to speech therapy and spiritual support. Staffed by a team of expert endocrinologists, psychologists, and allied professional staff, it has served some 600 youth from Missouri and Kansas and at least seven other states from as close as Nebraska and as far away as Mississippi and South Dakota.
Read the full op/ed via IN Kansas City Magazine
Learn more about the Gender Pathway Services clinic at Children's Mercy