Therapy for gender diverse youth

For young people who are questioning their gender or who want to make a gender change, therapy is the first step in the medical parts of gender change. Not all gender diverse young people want or need therapy. It can be helpful for some young people ages 3 and up.

It is important to find a therapist who uses the affirmative model of care.

Models for children and adolescents

Affirmative models

  • In this model, young people who identify or express their gender differently than expected are allowed to be themselves. Adults allow them to explore their gender identity and expression. In some cases the children are allowed to make a social transition. Studies show that this helps young people do better, whether or not they make another social transition later or go on to take medical or legal steps.
  • In 2018, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a policy statement called Ensuring Comprehensive Care and Support for Transgender and Gender-Diverse Children and Adolescents.

Harm reduction model

  • The goal in this model is to lower the chances a young person might reach a crisis where they hurt or kill themselves.

Non-affirmative models

  • Some “experts” believe that being transgender is bad. They try to stop young children from being themselves. They believe that if they discourage young children from being themselves, the children won’t make a gender transition. This model has several names:
    • Gender identity change efforts (GICE)
    • Reparative therapy
    • Watchful waiting
    • Conversion therapy
  • Dozens of organizations oppose this model, including the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics. In some places, this model is against the law.


Rafferty J, AAP Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health, AAP Committee on Adolescence, AAP Section on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health and Wellness (2018). Ensuring comprehensive care and support for transgender and gender-diverse children and adolescents. Pediatrics. 2018;142(4): e20182162 (PDF


American Psychological Association (

  • Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming People (2015 PDF)

Note: This page is for young people ages 13 and above.

Disclaimer: This is medical talk, not medical advice. Some of this may not apply to you. It is presented without warranty. It may contain errors or omissions. You must do your own research.