Queensland Children’s Hospital’s Gender Clinic

Associate Professor Stephen Stathis

Working as a child and adolescent psychiatrist at the then-Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital, Associate Professor Stephen Stathis was receiving more and more referrals for children experiencing gender dysmorphia or exhibiting non-conforming behaviours. Without a specific service for this vulnerable group of children, Stephen was putting in extra hours to provide support and care.

And then, in 2017, the newly named Queensland Children’s Hospital opened a statewide public Gender Clinic providing patients and their families with access to mental health clinicians and a paediatric endocrinologist able to manage adolescents diagnosed with gender dysphoria who require medical treatment such as pubertal suppression and hormone replacement.

At Showcase 2018, Stephen explained some of the harms of not properly recognising and supporting young people and their families as well as what gender dysphoria actually is. “The children and young people I see describe and experience varying levels of distress associated with a deep internal, sense that the gender of their body does not fit with the gender they identify with. It is not ‘just a trend or a phase’. Gender dysphoria is a serious and persistent condition, psychiatrically distinguishable from other issues of gender-expansive expression or confusion, or sexual orientation that may normally occur during childhood or adolescence,” Stephen said.