Kansas City,
09:48 AM

KC Offers Resources for Transgender People of All Ages and Their Families

When Madeline Johnson sat in front of the television and watched professional athlete Renée Richards talk about transitioning in the 1970s, she couldn't tell anyone that she felt the same way, that the boy body she had been born into didn't quite feel right. “I felt like I was somehow flawed,” she recalls. “I felt like I was the worst sinner and somehow not worthy of living an authentic life. My ideas of self were invalidated at every turn.”

Try as she might to suppress her feelings, they didn't go away. Johnson joined the military after high school and eventually married. It wasn't until three years ago, in her early 40s and divorced with two children, that she came out as transgender. “My journey was a very spiritual one,” Johnson explains. After years of thoughtful introspection that helped redefine her spiritual beliefs, she was ready to embrace her transition. “It became more painful to keep hiding than coming out and saying 'This is me.'”

That Johnson developed such feelings at a young age might seem startling, but it's far from unusual. Gender Pathway Services, a program at Children's Mercy, provides services and treatment to children who experience gender dysphoria in Kansas City. “Most of the calls that I get are appropriate,” says Heather McQueen, the program's social worker. She estimates that 90 to 95 percent of the calls she receives are for children who are, in fact, transgender. “I anticipate that's because it's such a hard call to make,” she explains. “I'm most concerned about the parents we're not hearing from, the ones without a support system.”

With 150 children already in the program ranging from ages 4 to 17, the list of referrals is much longer. As the only program of its kind between Dallas and Chicago, children travel to Kansas City from surrounding states to receive services. This might be surprising to some, but not to the doctor who treats these children and is passionate about researching the complexities of gender dysphoria.

Male hormones — referred to as androgens — are elevated in approximately 63 percent of Dr. Jill Jacobson's female-to-male transgender patients. “We are certainly seeing hormonal and chromosomal differences,” she explains. There aren't many clinics analyzing hormone and chromosome levels of transgender patients. Jacobson doesn't want gender dysphoria considered a mental condition — she wants it to be seen, researched and treated as the medical condition she believes it to be. 

Read the full story via 435 Magazine.

Click here to learn more about the Gender Pathway Services clinic.