The Evolution of Adolescent Gender-Affirming Care: An Historical Perspective

Jeremi M. Carswell, Ximena Lopez, Stephen M. Rosenthal

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


While individuals have demonstrated gender diversity throughout history, the use of medication and/or surgery to bring a person's physical sex characteristics into alignment with their gender identity is relatively recent, with origins in the first half of the 20th century. Adolescent gender-affirming care, however, did not emerge until the late 20th century and has been built upon pioneering work from the Netherlands, first published in 1998. Since that time, evolving protocols for gender-diverse adolescents have been incorporated into clinical practice guidelines and standards of care published by the Endocrine Society and World Professional Association for Transgender Health, respectively, and have been endorsed by major medical and mental health professional societies around the world. In addition, in recent decades, evidence has continued to emerge supporting the concept that gender identity is not simply a psychosocial construct but likely reflects a complex interplay of biological, environmental, and cultural factors. Notably, however, while there has been increased acceptance of gender diversity in some parts of the world, transgender adolescents and those who provide them with gender-affirming medical care, particularly in the USA, have been caught in the crosshairs of a culture war, with the risk of preventing access to care that published studies have indicated may be lifesaving. Despite such challenges and barriers to care, currently available evidence supports the benefits of an interdisciplinary model of gender-affirming medical care for transgender/gender-diverse adolescents. Further long-term safety and efficacy studies are needed to optimize such care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)649-656
Number of pages8
JournalHormone Research in Paediatrics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescence
  • Biology of gender
  • Gender identity
  • Gender-affirming care
  • Gender-affirming hormones
  • Pubertal blockers
  • Transgender

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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