Bioethics Blogs

Fit to a “T”: Addressing the Unique Needs of Transgender Students

 

On Monday, August 3, several organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign, the National Education Association, and the American Civil Liberties Union released “Schools in Transition: A Guide for Supporting Transgender Students in K-12 Schools.” The report, which addresses issues such as names and pronouns, dress codes, and puberty and medical transition “represents an important milestone in reducing health disparities among transgender youth, something that we are also working toward at the Fordham University Center for Ethics Education,” stated Dr. Celia Fisher, Center Director.

Dr. Fisher and her co-P.I. Dr. Brian Mustanski of Northwestern University, were recently awarded a $1.9 million grant from the National Institute on Minority Health Disparities to examine the ethics of HIV prevention involving LGBT youth. This research has included focus groups specifically designed to determine the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and gender non-conforming New York City youth.

Recently, Fisher along with Dr. Mimi Arbeit and Melissa Dumont, interviewed transgender and gender non-conforming New York City youth about their health-related experiences.

“Many transgender youth feel that their elementary and high school health classes have let them down by never providing information on transgender issues or the type of health related knowledge important to them,” Dr. Fisher said.

She went on to describe how some youth told them “while they knew early on that they identified as a gender different from what they were assigned at birth, because of the lack of information in health classes or provided by their doctors, they did not have terminology for how they felt or know that there were others who shared their experience.”

Fisher explained that transgender youth can also be very sensitive to how they are portrayed on social media and that for many the term “LGBT” does not necessarily signal inclusion of transgender issues, since the “LGB” portion of this popular term reflects sexual attraction, whereas the “T” reflects a person’s gender identity.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.