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New Tool Opens Doors for Future Fertility of Transgender Youth

December 15, 2017
Katie Visco

With increasing public awareness and understanding for transgenderism, many children and teens are liberated to express their own gender and sexual identifications. For these children and adolescents working towards self-identification and acceptance, future fertility is often the last thing on their minds. However, researchers at Children's National Health System have developed a new tool--the Transgender Youth Fertility Attitudes Questionnaire--to begin the conversation with transgender youth about their fertility options. 

Here's what the tool does:

  • Evaluates child and parents' knowledge of fertility risks from gender transitioning treatments
  • Gauges potential future interest on having their own biological children
  • Introduces options for fertility preservation

Development of the Transgender Youth Fertility Attitudes Questionnaire

A Tool Designed by and for Transgender Youth 

The Transgender Youth Fertility Attitudes Questionnaire is the first tool of its kind, and is designed to keep transgender youth engaged and informed on transitioning options and their effects on future fertility. "Gender-related medical approaches may impact fertility for a lifetime," John Strang, Psy. D., a neuropsychologist at Children's National Health System and lead author of the study says, "and while it may not matter to someone now, it might in the future. This new tool will help us understand how our youth feel about these issues and questions, so we know when it is appropriate to discuss choices." With the knowledge gained from the newly developed tool, clinicians can better support transgender teens.

How it Works

Building on and Improving Existing Approaches

Although there are currently approaches for assessing fertility attitudes in youth with at-risk fertility, the Transgender Youth Fertility Attitudes Questionnaire is the first with questions specifically designed for transgender youth. With special sets of needs for the transgender population--as well as the large autistic population that exists within the transgender youth population--the new tool is specifically geared to ask the right questions while respecting language preferences and other topics sensitive to transgender youth. Best of all: the tool is completely free and available on the Children's National Website.

Results from Pilot Study

What we learn from early uses of the Transgender Youth Fertility Attitudes Questionnaire 

The pilot study feature in the journal article found that a majority of transgender youth expressed a desire to have children someday, and 24% hoped that there was a way to make sure that these children were biologically their own. The tool found that many transgender youth are unsure about their feelings of having biological children in the future, which reinforces the importance of the tool. With the ability to trigger conversations about future fertility, transgender youth can begin thinking about the future fertility options before undergoing transitioning or hormone treatments. 

Thanks to the development of the Transgender Youth Fertility Attitudes Questionnaire, transgender youth are now being introduced to their future fertility options early and with open understanding from clinicians. In the future, we hope to see the transgender population have more access to the tools and knowledge needed to help them reach their fertility goals.

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