Experiences of parents of trans young people accessing Australian health services for their child: Findings from Trans Pathways

Georgia Chaplyn, Liz A. Saunders, Ashleigh Lin, Angus Cook, Sam Winter, Natalie Gasson, Vanessa Watson, Dani Wright Toussaint, Penelope Strauss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Many trans young people seek mental health support and gender-affirming medical interventions including puberty suppression, gender-affirming hormones and/or surgeries. Trans young people and their parents face multiple barriers in accessing gender-affirming care and mental health support, however little is known about the parent perspective on accessing services for their trans child. Aims: This study aimed to understand the experiences of parents accessing medical and mental health services with and for their trans children within Australia. Methods: Using data from Trans Pathways, a large mixed-methods cross-sectional study, we examined the experiences of parents (N = 194) in Australia accessing primary care, psychiatry, therapy/counseling, mental health inpatient, and gender-affirming medical services with/for their trans children (aged 25 years or younger). Qualitative data on service experiences were thematically analyzed. Quantitative analyses included frequency of access to services, wait times, service satisfaction, and mental health diagnoses of the parents’ trans child. Results: Services were mostly first accessed when the young person was between 12 and 17 years of age, with primary care physicians being the most accessed service. Parents reported that some practitioners were respectful and knowledgeable about gender-affirming care, and others lacked experience in trans health. Across all services, common barriers included long wait times, complicated pathways to navigate to access support, as well as systemic barriers such as sparsity of gender speciality services. Across services, parents reported feeling as though they do not have the necessary tools to best support their child in their gender affirmation. Discussion: This study highlights the crucial need for systemic changes in the processes of accessing gender-affirming care and mental health support to enable access to appropriate and timely care. These findings also indicate the importance of improving individual practitioner knowledge around trans health, to enhance the support provided to trans young people and their parents.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Transgender Health
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Feb 2023


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