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"Difficult to Find, Stressful to Navigate": Parents' Experiences Accessing Affirming Care for Gender-Diverse Youth

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Purpose: Gender-diverse youth (GDY) face significant health disparities, which can be mitigated by gender-affirming medical care. Understanding parents' experiences seeking care for their GDY can identify barriers to care and improve access. This study sought to understand parents' experiences accessing gender-affirming medical care with their GDY. 

Methods: We asked parents of GDY in the United States to describe their experiences with gender-affirming medical care through a single open-ended item on an online survey disseminated through social media in February of 2020. Open-ended survey responses were analyzed through inductive thematic analysis by two authors using an iteratively developed codebook adjudicated by consensus. This codebook was used to identify key themes. 

Results: We analyzed 277 responses from majority White (93.9%) parents from 41 U.S. states. Themes included (1) Experiences accessing care: finding a provider, financial and insurance-related considerations, the impact of geography on care access; (2) Experiences receiving care: factors in successful or unsuccessful patient-provider interactions, differing approaches to initiating care, sense of community with other families; and (3) Outcomes related to receiving care: how care for their child was perceived to be lifesaving or helped their child thrive. 

Conclusions: Parents highlighted how access to gender-affirming medical care improved their GDY's health and wellbeing, and described numerous barriers they experienced with finding and receiving this care. Given the evidence that gender-affirming medical care mitigates health disparities, providers, policymakers, insurance companies, and health systems leaders should urgently address these challenges to ensure equitable receipt of care for all GDY.



Kidd K, Sequeira GM, Katz-Wise S, Fechter-Leggett M, Gandy M, Miller E, Dowshen N