In this section
The Royal Children's Hospital Gender Service aims to improve the physical and mental health outcomes of children and adolescents who are trans or gender diverse. Being trans or gender diverse is seen as part of the natural spectrum of human diversity.
Some trans or gender diverse children and adolescents experience gender dysphoria. Gender dysphoria is a medical term that refers to the distress that a person may experience when there is an incongruence between their gender identity and their sex assigned at birth.
Transgender and gender diverse children and adolescents have considerably higher rates of depression, anxiety, self-harm and attempted suicide compared to their cis-gender peers. This is due to their experiences of stigma, discrimination, social exclusion, bullying and harassment. Increasing evidence demonstrates that with supportive,
gender affirming care during childhood and adolescence, harms can be ameliorated and mental health and wellbeing outcomes can be significantly improved.
The Gender Service is a Victorian statewide service. Unfortunately the Service is unable to accept referrals from interstate.
mental health service State Government website provides contact details for Victoria's regionalised mental health services and the suburbs and regions they cover.
We accept new referrals from across Victoria for any child or adolescent up to the age of 17 years with concerns regarding their gender identity. A referral from a General Practitioner (GP) to the Gender Service is required.
Referrals can be made to the Gender Service using the
interactive Referral form which should then be faxed to (03) 9345 5034.
Once a referral has been received by the hospital you will get a phone SMS from the hospital confirming this. All new referrals will receive an appointment in the mail outlining the details of the first appointment.
The RCH Gender Service see children and adolescents for a new assessment up to their 17thbirthday. Adolescents who are 17 years or over may be eligible to access adult services:
Monash Medical Centre Gender Clinic
For people aged 17+
Phone: 03 9556 5216
Fax: 03 9556 5256
The Gender Service Clinical Nurse Consultant can be contacted on (03) 9345 4719.
The Gender Service administration coordinator can be contacted on (03) 9345 5890
Specialist clinics can be contacted via switchboard on (03) 9345 6180 - specifically ask for Desk D
Once a referral has been received by the Gender Service you will be sent an appointment in the mail.
When an appointment for your assessment becomes available you will be contacted by our Administration Coordinator to confirm details.
The initial consultation for children 8 years and under will entail a review by a psychologist or child psychiatrist. They may be referred later to a paediatrician who specialises in adolescent medicine and gender diversity if required.
The initial consultation is the entry point into service for children 8 years and adolescents up to their 17th
birthday. This is a one off consultation with the Gender Service clinical nurse consultant or one of our adolescent medicine doctors.
This initial consultation will involve an assessment that will allow the Gender Service team to provide you and your child or adolescent with information regarding the service. As an outcome of this assessment you will be provided recommendations to the relevant supports that are available within the Royal Children’s Hospital and external community organisations.
Treatment provided by the Gender Service involves development of a comprehensive management plan made in collaboration with the child or adolescent and their family.
Following your initial assessment you will be offered four appointments with a child and adolescent clinical psychologist or psychiatrist and then a paediatrician both whom specialise in gender identity.
For pre-pubertal gender diverse children, assistance is provided to develop gender affirming environments both at home and at school. Once puberty starts, options for medical treatment are divided into two stages:
Puberty blockers – prescribed by a paediatrician or paediatric endocrinologist.
Puberty blockers suppress the development of secondary sex characteristics whilst providing time for cognitive and emotional development. As they are reversible in their effects, should an adolescent wish to stop taking them at any time, puberty will resume in the biological sex.
Gender affirming hormones (oestrogen or testosterone) – prescribed by paediatrician or paediatric endocrinologist.
Gender affirming hormones initiate puberty in the affirmed gender and may be commenced around the age of 15 to 16 years. A transgender female would be commenced on oestrogen and a transgender male would start testosterone. These are only partially reversible in their effects.
The RCH Gender Service provides care that is consistent with the Australian Standards of Care and Treatment Guidelines for Trans and Gender Diverse Children and Adolescents (2017).
Australian Standards of Care and Treatment Guidelines
- youth groups for LGBTIQ youth by region http://www.rainbownetwork.com.au/index.php/find-a-group
Research into gender dysphoria has been increasing over the past 10 years however, further evaluation and research is required to maximise treatment outcomes. To provide great care to children and adolescents with gender diverse or experience gender
dysphoria, the RCH Gender Service is undertaking research and evaluation to better understand gender concerns in children and adolescents. There are currently three research and evaluation projects underway:
This project explores the way that patients and parents experience the service. We will then use this feedback to improve our service for patients and their families.
We are undertaking an evaluation of the service to explore whether it is having a positive impact. This evaluation will involve collecting information about the health and wellbeing of patients (and parents) when they are first seen at the service and then at regular follow up periods. This information will help us understand the health care needs of children and adolescents with gender dysphoria. We will then be able to see how these needs change over time.
We are also interested in how gender dysphoria affects parents. This project explores how raising a child with gender dysphoria is related to parent wellbeing, and the types of support that parents may want to access.
These three projects will help to improve our care for RCH patients and their families. We hope that these projects will improve our understanding of gender dysphoria and gender diversity in children and adolescents. We plan to build our research and evaluation activities in the future to expand our knowledge of gender in children and young people.